The US Army's experiment with augmented reality has stepped up a gear with the awarding of a contract to Microsoft to customise more than 120,000 of its HoloLens augmented reality headsets.
The contract, which the Army's Program Executive Office announced on the 31 March, is worth an estimated $22 billion over a 10-year period and marks the shift from rapid prototyping to production and rapid fielding.
The customised HoloLens augmented reality headsets form part of the Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) to deliver next-generation night vision and situational awareness capabilities to the Close Combat Force (CCF) at the speed of relevance.
In a blog post, Microsoft said the IVAS headset would be based on the HoloLens and augmented by Microsoft Azure cloud services.
IVAS combines multiple technologies into an architecture that allows the soldier to fight, rehearse, and train using a single platform,
The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display to provide improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries.
The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the CCF can rehearse before engaging any adversaries.
Armies have been experimenting for a number of years with AR and mixed reality for both military training and enhanced situational awareness on the battlefield.
The deal with Microsoft will enable the Army to more rapidly produce and develop an AR/mixed reality capability using innovative commercial off-the-shelf technology.
The augmented reality glasses contract follows on from an earlier deal with Microsoft in 2018 which saw the tech giant awarded a $480 million contract to supply 100,000 HoloLens augmented reality headsets for training and combat purposes.
WATCH THIS US ARMY VIDEO ABOUT THE IVAS