Microsoft won a $480 million military contract with the U.S. government to outfit soldiers with HoloLens AR tech. The two-year contract may even result in follow-on orders of more than 100,000 headsets, according to documentation, which described the bidding process. The U.S. Army already utilizes Microsoft’s HoloLens devices in training, though this latest development would further bring the AR headsets to the battleground and into live combat. The two-year contract may even result in follow-on orders of more than 100,000 headsets, according to documentation, which described the bidding process.
“Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement sent to TechCrunch.
Microsoft’s contract is part of a military program called HUD 3.0, for “heads up device,” – also known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System. According to the government, the program’s purpose is to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.”
Bloomberg reports that Magic Leap was also pursuing this contract, though the military contract might have been a bit more of a reach for the company. Magic Leap mentioned that its company’s efforts are focused primarily on consumers, while the startup just recently released its first development kit. On the other hand, Microsoft’s tech has been in the developers’ hands for more than two years.
TechCrunch notes that Microsoft “wouldn’t just be planning to take what it’s been selling to factory workers and put it onto a battlefield, but the system requirements outlined in the contract already seem to eclipse what the current generation HoloLens optics are capable of.”The current generation features FoV, which will have a requirement of between 55 and 110 degrees. In addition, the device is expected to be no heavier than 1.5 pounds and will be compatible with existing military helmets.
The headset would specifically track weapons and enable soldiers to view simulated fire from their real weapons, while also offering training with weapons such as javelin missile systems in a totally simulated environment.