WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Microsoft wins a $22 billion contract from the US Army to produce over 100,000 units of augmented reality headsets.
- Using Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, the headsets are capable of creating virtual imagery and holograms for the user.
- The system is believed to help soldiers train on remote battlefields.
A $22 billion contract will be awarded to Microsoft to make augmented reality (AR) headsets for the US Army.
Microsoft’s AR headset device is based on HoloLens technology, which was specifically made for the video gaming and entertainment industries.
As part of the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System, the Pentagon looked to the new innovation as reinforcement for soldiers to raise their awareness in the battleground and amplify their ability to spot potential threats.
The HoloLens head-mounted device would enable users to see virtual imagery that could cover the entire vision they could see, with hologram features that could provide necessary details in dealing with a specific item or situation.
On their website, the Army said that their troops had a pilot run of the gadgets last year. They commended the system due to a benefit it could give “on battlefields that are increasingly urban, congested, dark and unpredictable.”
In 2018, the Army started testing Microsoft’s device in a $480 million deal. The new contract would enable the company to beef up its production of over 100,000 units for Close Combat Force in the Army. Per Bill gates’ company, the contract would reach $21.88 billion spanning until the 2030s, including a five-year base agreement that is extendable.
It was unclear, though, how the new deal would take part in the $740 billion defense policy bill that was passed in January. The measure included a three percent salary increase for US service members but with stipulations to decrease allocation for the headset device.
According to Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI.), the system was promising but noted that its efficacy should be monitored “and it’s our job to raise issues if the technology isn’t meeting the needs of our troops now and in the future.”
In February, Microsoft President Brad Smith told Reed’s senate committee that the technology could incorporate thermal night vision and facial recognition that would aid soldiers on remote battlegrounds with its “real-time analytics.” He also explained how it could help in a situation of a hostage crisis — for instance, the device could construct a “digital twin” of a building.
In 2019, a group of Microsoft workers asked the company to suspend its early contract with the Army, noting that the system would convert real-world battlefields into video games.
Microsoft has been largely working for the US as a defense contractor. In September, the Pentagon revalidated the company’s bid of a $10 billion cloud computing contract. The deal did not immediately take place since Amazon contested the claim, arguing that the bidding was manipulated.
Source: New York Post