More than one year after Microsoft and the U.S. Army shifted their Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program from prototype to production phase, the military will finally get the new augmented reality goggles for soldiers.
The devices, which are based on Microsoft HoloLens and use the company’s Azure cloud computing platform, will allow soldiers to see through smoke and around corners, use holographic imagery for training and have 3D terrain maps projected onto their field of vision. They also allow commanders to place important information into the field of vision of ground troops. Ultimately, the headsets could allow soldiers to train in more realistic environments.
According to Bloomberg, an initial order for 5,000 of the special HoloLens headsets was placed last year but was paused for more testing after concerns were raised about the device’s performance. But increased testing now has the Army confident in the program.
The devices have gone through several design iterations that had to take into account things like a soldier’s need to brace a weapon against their cheek. The original device also included dial controls that soldiers attached to their chests, but those controls easily broke off when soldiers dropped down to crawl on the ground.
But now that most of the kinks have been worked out, the shipments are on the way. The deal could see the Army spend up to $21.9 billion. Besides the headsets, the military may also explore using the IVAS program to install similar mixed-reality displays inside of vehicles.