Military VR? Microsoft signs $22 billion contract with US Army
Microsoft has won a major contract with the US Army to supply them with advanced AR headsets. These headsets, based on the Microsoft HoloLens technology, will be provided to frontline soldiers as part of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System or IVAS.
This is a 5-10 year contract worth up to $21.88 billion. The order has been reported as 120,000 units although the military has been quick to respond that the number is advisory and represents the maximum number of units.
They have increased their field of view for the military version of the headset. It has increased from around 40°x30° to 80°x40°. That is a huge improvement and will be light years beyond anything that is available on the open market. This is all in service of providing soldiers with next-generation night vision and situational awareness capabilities
In the military’s announcement about the Production Contract, David Patterson, the PEO Soldier Director of Public Affairs, wrote:
“The Army’s partnership with Microsoft redefined the timeline for rapid development and production of a major defence program by taking advantage of the Middle Tier of Acquisition and Other Transaction authorities and partnering with a non-traditional defence contractor that is an industry leader in developing innovative technology.
“The partnership between the Army and Microsoft illustrates areas that the Department of Defence and industry can work together towards achieving modernization priorities in the interest of national security.”
Potential uses of the AR headsets:
· Overlaying icons on friendly units, objectives, threats, and points of interest.
· Built-in night vision & thermal view modes.
· Live picture-in-picture feeds from drones, including the Soldier Borne Sensors (SBS) personal drone.
· Simulated weapons & enemies for training exercises.
· Scanning nearby people for high temperature (COVID-19).
· Facial recognition for hostage rescue situations.
· Integration with vehicle cameras, so those inside a troop carrier will be able to see through the armoured walls and see what is waiting for them outside a vehicle before they get out.