Microsoft to supply US army with augmented reality headsets

Microsoft Corp snatched a highly lucrative contract to provide US soldiers with augmented reality headsets, US media reported on Wednesday.

The deal with the Pentagon could end up being worth close to $22 billion (€18.8 billion) over the course of 10 years, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to Reuters.

In a blog post, Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman said the headsets were designed to deliver “enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.”

The technology behind the headsets is based on Microsoft’s HoloLens product and backed up by Azure cloud computing services.

What are augmented reality headsets?

In line with the agreement, Microsoft will quickly begin production of an Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). The headsets will be manufactured in the US.

The deal would allow IVAS to provide “next-generation night vision and situational awareness capabilities,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

The headset includes a display in front of the user’s eyes which can overlay information onto their normal field of vision. The IVAS produced for the Pentagon will let soldiers take advantage of sensors for night and thermal vision in training and in battle.

The display will also support the users in target engagement and tactical decisions, the defense department said.

Microsoft cozies up to the US military

The US tech giant and the US military have been working on a series of projects, including developing a prototype IVAS for the past two years.

The initial phase of the project followed a $480 million contract signed in 2018.

In response to that deal, at least 94 Microsoft workers petitioned the company to cancel the deal and stop developing “any and all weapons technologies.”

A separate contract to develop the US army’s JEDI cloud computing system for $10 billion has been held up in court following a lawsuit filed by Inc.

Amazon claims that the contract was awarded after former President Donald Trump improperly influenced the process.

By DW News

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