Microsoft Secures $480 Million U.S. Army HoloLens Contract
Microsoft Secures $480 Million U.S. Army HoloLens Contract
Microsoft has struck a deal to supply Holo Lens to the US Army. Claudia Cruz CNET
30 November, 2018, 07:33
The contract could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 AR headsets as part of a program to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy", according to Bloomberg, which reported the news earlier Wednesday.
The U.S. Army and the Israeli military have already used Microsoft's HoloLens devices in training, but plans for live combat would be a significant step forward. "This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area", a Microsoft spokesman said.
HoloLens is an augmented reality headset that overlays virtual objects and information over the real world.
The purchase is part of the USA military's Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) - a $548 million program approved by Congress that sits in the military's research and development arm.
With the contract, the Army immediately becomes one of Microsoft's most important HoloLens consumers. The upgrades required include adding night vision, thermal sensing, and the monitoring of vital signs of the wearer.
While the headline deal is advertised for 100,000 headsets, the initial order is only for 2500 to be delivered within 2 years, with the capacity for mass production in the future.
However, the DoD is also tasking the tech giant with developing military-grade software to go along with the highly customized devices.
Over the summer, the USA military met with defense contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Raytheon Co. for the program. Tenders that Microsoft beat out for the military contract included Magic Leap.
How Microsoft staff will react to the military contract remains to be seen. "Many Microsoft employees don't believe that what we build should be used for waging war", they wrote in a blog post on Medium.
Microsoft legal chief Brad Smith defended the company's bidding on that project, which involves moving massive amounts of Pentagon internal data and processing power to a commercially operated cloud system.
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