Real life is catching up to video games. Microsoft has been awarded a US Army contract to supply the military agency with 120,000 headsets based on the company’s Hololens technology. The contract will run over ten years and should net the tech company up to $21 billion over the period.
This isn’t a surprise, however. The tech giant previously had a $480 million deal with the US Army in 2018 to create the prototypes — this recent announcement marks the shift from prototype to production of the IVAS headset.
The headsets, known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), add a couple of nifty features for the democracy-distributing soldier on the go. A prototype seen in 2019 included a map on the heads-up-display, a compass and thermal imaging, as well an aim-point for a weapon.
Microsoft’s Alex Kipman explains further in a blog post on the company’s website, “The IVAS headset, based on HoloLens and augmented by Microsoft Azure cloud services, delivers a platform that will keep Soldiers safer and make them more effective. The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.”
But it seems that the IVAS isn’t expressly intended for use in the field. The US Army said in a statement that “…the system…leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the Close Combat Force (CCF) can rehearse before engaging any adversaries.” But we’d imagine that a rugged version of the headgear will enough along soon enough. It sounds too useful to not deploy in combat — even if it has a way to go before reaching Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter levels.