According to CNBC, this modified version of the HoloLens 2 will be used on and off the battlefield.
During November of last year, it was reported that Microsoft would be entering a $479M contract with the United States military to supply the Army with 100,000 modified HoloLens headsets. That following February, A group of Microsoft employees released a statement to Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, and its president, Brad Smith, condemning the actions of the company and expressing outrage over the potential use of HoloLens technology for combat purposes.
“We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US Military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built,” the employees state in their letter. “We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.”
Since then, Microsoft has pushed forward with the program, reconfirming their dedication towards providing new technologies to organizations “dedicated towards the defense of democratic values.”
Thanks to an exclusive inside-look provided by CNBC, we now have our first real look at the modified HoloLens 2, offering us better insight into the specific use-case scenarios of these state-of-the-art AR devices. The biggest change from the commercial edition of the headset comes in the form of the ‘Integrated Visual Augmentation System,’ otherwise known as IVAS.
This advanced heads-up display offers the wearer a plethora of real-time data layered directly over their field-of-view; this includes precise compass positioning, a virtual map of the operator’s location — including that of their squadmates — and an on-screen reticle indicating the line-of-sight of the operator’s weapon.
There’s also the inclusion of a FLIR thermal camera located on the center of the device, allowing for both thermal and night vision capabilities; this will allow the operators to perform more efficiently in poor visual conditions, such as smoke, fog, or darkness.
According to CNBC, the US Army plans on continuing field tests through 2022, with hopes to deploy the technology into battlefields sometime around 2028.