IVAS can improve a soldier’s situational awareness and decision-making capabilities.
The United States Army confirmed via an official statement yesterday that it has awarded Microsoft a contract to deliver 120,000 military-grade HoloLens AR headsets designed for use in a variety of combat scenarios. According to CNBC, this partnership could be worth up to $21.88B over the course of the next 10 years.
The US Army states that Microsoft’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) will be used by soldiers both on and off the battlefield, whether it be training in a mixed reality environment or identifying targets in the field via the unified heads-up display. The platform is designed to improve everything from situational awareness to decision-making by providing the wearer with critical real-time information displayed via an AR overlay.
“The IVAS aggregates multiple technologies into an architecture that allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse, and Train using a single platform,” states David Patterson, PEO Soldier Director of Public Affairs. “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 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.”
We first caught wind of Microsoft’s interest in the United States military back in 2019 after the company won a $479M contract to provide the military with prototypes of its IVAS, much to the chagrin of a certain group of Microsoft employees who believed the partnership to be morally unethical.
“The application of HoloLens within the Integrated Visual Augmentation System [IVAS] is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated “video game,” further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed,” stated the group of workers in an official statement.
This isn’t the only AR-related project currently under consideration by the military, however. During CES 2020 we learned that VRgineer’s military-grade VR headset was already being used by the US Air Force. The United States Army Research Laboratory has even been experimenting with AR goggles designed specifically for use by combat dogs, allowing handlers to deliver commands to their partners remotely while engaged in a variety of combat scenarios.
Feature Image Credit: US Army