Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

US Army to use Microsoft HoloLens in actual combat missions

US Army to use Microsoft HoloLens in actual combat missions

A Microsoft spokesman said: "Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions".

Tensions: The deal is more good news for Microsoft, which overtook Apple as the world's most valuable company yesterday.

The new contract will continue Microsoft's relationship with the Department of Defense. That's about half the number the Army expects to buy through its augmented reality program, which is called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS.

Among other things, the US Army wants a variant that features both thermal and night vision capabilities, as well as hearing protection and the ability to monitor the wearer's health.

The U.S. Army and the Israeli military have already used Microsoft's HoloLens devices in training, but plans for live combat would be a significant step forward. Only about 50,000 HoloLens units have been sold so far worldwide, according to a recent Microsoft video, a fact that underlines the huge size of this contract. HoloLens is aimed more at developers and enterprise users rather than consumers. At that point this new version of HoloLens should also be ready for "full-scale production".

Under the terms of the contract, Microsoft is expected to deliver 2,500 headsets within two years that meet the criteria set out by the Army.

Making the leap to combat is no small task, obviously.

Over the summer, the US military met with defense contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Raytheon Co. for the program. In October, a blog post purportedly written by Microsoft employees urged the company not to bid on a multi-billion dollar us military cloud contract.

Microsoft and many other Seattle and Silicon Valley companies have been running into opposition from employees to dealing with the US Military over humanitarian concerns.

President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a blog post that Microsoft will remain committed to its military and governmental agreements despite pushback from staff. Employees that are ethically conflicted regarding any contracts will be allowed to switch to a different project if they wish.

Microsoft recently said, however, that the company would not stop selling software to the United States military.

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