Microsoft takes another turn to test its HoloLens combat goggles with the US military. The company has confirmed to Engadget that it will supply IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) 1.2 enhanced devices to the military before the end of July. These updated augmented reality models are “thinner, lighter and more balanced” than before, according to Microsoft. This, in turn, should make them more comfortable and improve soldier performance.
the army recount Bloomberg two teams will test 20 prototype IVAS glasses at the end of August. They will assess low-light functionality, reliability, and whether or not they make soldiers sick. Some testers complained last year of nausea, headaches, and eye strain, while others were unhappy with the bulk, narrow field of view, and display glow that could reveal the presence of a soldier at night. Key features also failed relatively frequently.
HoloLens technology is intended to improve knowledge of the battlefield. Infantry can see each other’s positions, gain vital health stats, and use less visible night vision. They can better coordinate aggression and warn if there are signs of injury or fatigue. The technology could hit the ground within a few years if the August test is successful. The Army would award a contract between July and September 2024 for a second field study and could move to operational combat testing as early as April 2025. The Army could deploy IVAS months later.
Much depends on this test, however. While the military could spend up to $21.9 billion over ten years on up to 121,000 IVAS units, Congress has blocked new orders previous glasses in January following reports of problems. The politicians instead gave Microsoft $40 million to rework the hardware. If there are still problems, the military could cancel the program. This would not only cost Microsoft a lucrative contract, but would cast further doubt on HoloLens itself. The team lost lead developer Alex Kipman last year following allegations of misconduct, and layoffs at the start of the year dealt a serious blow to the mixed reality division.