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Microsoft wins $480 million HoloLens contract with US Military

30 November, 2018, 07:28 | Author: Kristi Dunn
  • US Army to use Microsoft’s Hololens for combat missions

Well, that's the impression we get given American's military plans to use Microsoft's HoloLens mixed reality goggles in combat missions. The contract is for the supply of augmented reality system prototypes, and could lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 HoloLens AR headsets as part of its Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, program. Yes, this purchase isn't for training, simulations, or support operations like repairs, engineering and field medics but meant to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy".

HoloLens is an augmented reality headset that overlays virtual objects and information over the real world. "This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area", Microsoft told Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg, the US Army and the Israeli military have already been trialling the HoloLens in training. The upgrades required include adding night vision, thermal sensing, and the monitoring of vital signs of the wearer.

Microsoft beat out several other suitors, including Magic Leap, for the contract. In June, over 100 of the company's employees requesting that Microsoft end its cloud computing contract with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). HoloLens is aimed more at developers and enterprise users rather than consumers.

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Microsoft president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, addressed the criticism in a blog post. "When we chose to work at Microsoft, we were doing so in the hopes of "empowering every person on the planet to achieve more", not with the intent of ending lives and enhancing lethality", the letter reads. "Given our size and product diversity, we often have open jobs across the company and we want people to look for the work they want to do, including with help from Microsoft's HR team", Smith said.

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

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.



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