The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation system headset is based on Microsoft’s HoloLens gaming device.
Microsoft scored a contract worth up to nearly $22 billion to produce augmented reality headsets for Army combat troops, the Army and Microsoft announced separately Wednesday.
The Integrated Visual Augmentation System headset is based on Microsoft's HoloLens gaming device, according to a Microsoft blog post. The headsets will deliver next-generation night vision and situational awareness capabilities to the Close Combat Force, according to the Army’s press release.
“Microsoft has worked closely with the U.S. Army over the past two years, and together we pioneered Soldier Centered Design to enable rapid prototyping for a product to provide Soldiers with an overwhelming advantage to achieve their mission,” Alex Kipman, technical fellow for artificial intelligence and mixed reality, wrote in the blog post.
The IVAS program pulls together multiple technologies into a single platform, according to the Army press release.
“The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and Soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries,” the release reads. “The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the CCF can rehearse before engaging any adversaries.”
The Army originally awarded Microsoft the IVAS prototyping contract worth $480 million under an other transaction authority in 2018. The production contract will be worth up to $21.88 billion in a contract with a five-year base period that can be extended for another five years.
Microsoft employees in 2019 protested the company’s involvement in the project, calling in an open letter to Microsoft President Brad Smith and Chief Executive Satya Nadella to cancel the IVAS contract for ethical reasons.
“The partnership between the Army and Microsoft illustrates areas that the Department of Defense and industry can work together towards achieving modernization priorities in the interest of national security,” the Army release reads.