The AR Arms Race
The U. S. Military's Augmented Reality Project Has Customized Needs
Augmented reality (AR) will soon be part of the U.S. military's arsenal. In a US$480 million contract, Microsoft has been tapped to deliver customized HoloLens headsets. Yet grabbing these headsets off the production line won't be an option. The military contract includes system requirements that surpass the capabilities of the current generation of HoloLens, which means a dedicated development project to adapt the headsets to military needs.
The military version of this device must be lighter than 1.5 pounds (0.7 kilograms), compatible with current military helmets, and be able to track weapons and show simulated fire from real weapons while training. The headsets must also have a field of vision between 55 and 110 degrees.
What the augmented reality headsets, dubbed Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, will be used for is unclear. Government descriptions hint at active combat, saying AR headsets will “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.” However, a contract tag line touts the HoloLens’ ability to enable “25 bloodless battles before the first battle,” which might suggest the HoloLens will be used primarily for training.
Microsoft has been tapped to deliver customized HoloLens headsets, in a US$480 million contract.