Microsoft wins a $21.9 billion contract to build augmented-reality Hololens headsets for the U.S. Army
Another day, another billion dollars contract. Earlier today, the Pentagon announced that Microsoft has won a contract to build more than 120,000 custom HoloLens augmented-reality headsets for the U.S. Army. The contract is part of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program to provide infantry with an augmented reality headset, which would help to see in the dark and also to help the soldiers to see right through walls.
The Pentagon said the U.S. Army announced will work with Microsoft on the production phase of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program as it moves from rapid prototyping to production and rapid fielding. According to Microsoft spokesperson, the contract could be worth up to $21.88 billion over 10 years.
In a separate announcement on its website, Microsoft said, “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.”
The announcement follows a $480 million contract Microsoft received to give the Army prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmented System, or IVAS, in 2018. The new deal will involve providing production versions.
The standard-issue HoloLens, which costs $3,500, enables people to see holograms overlaid over their actual environments and interact using hand and voice gestures.
The IVAS system is in its third iteration as of October 2020. Previous tests used commercial Microsoft HoloLens 2 headsets which were not resistant to inclement weather. However, a new ruggedized version of the system was tested in late October 2020 to get soldier feedback and refine the system for eventual battlefield use.
In December 2020, United States Congress decided to cut $230 million of the $1.1 billion request for Army’s IVAS goggles. After nearly 2 years of development, the final IVAS Capability Set 4 system is scheduled to be fielded in 2021. Over 40,000 sets are to be issued.