Microsoft will be supplying prototypes for augmented reality systems to the U.S. Army which the military branch will use for training and combat missions. The contract is reportedly worth $480 million and will lead to Microsoft supplying as many as 100,000 HoloLens augmented reality headsets to the army.
A government description of the program reveals that the intention behind this $480 million Integrated Visual Augmentation System program is to increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.”
A spokesperson for Microsoft told Bloomberg in a statement that “Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions,” adding that this new contract extends the company’s longstanding relationship with the Department of Defense.
This isn’t the first time that the U.S. Army will be using Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets for training. Even the Israeli military has used them but this would be the first time that they are put to use in live combat.
Microsoft was awarded this contract through a bidding process which was meant to encourage companies who aren’t conventional defense contractors to work with the military. Magic Leap, a company that makes the primary competitor to HoloLens, also reportedly pursued this contract.
Bloomberg reports that the headsets which will be supplied to the military branch will be quite different from the existing HoloLens design. They will feature night vision and thermal sensing. Microsoft is expected to ship at least 2,500 units of the headset to the Army within the next two years.