Soon, US soldiers will use Microsoft HoloLens on battlefield
Soon, US Military soldiers will use Microsoft's HoloLens headsets on the battlefield. The Cupertino giant has won a $479 million contract from the Army to produce modified HoloLens for training and combat purposes. Once ready, they'll be employed to increase the soldiers' lethality and enhance their "ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy". Here's more on the contract.
For those unaware, HoloLens is Microsoft's wearable consumer technology for diving into the ocean of mixed reality. The headsets link real and augmented worlds by placing virtual characters or objects in our surroundings like a cartoon in the living room. Normally, the tech is used for gaming and other lighter purposes, but Army troops would be using it in combat, Bloomberg reported.
As the two-year contract has just been awarded, details are pretty limited at the moment. However, the requirements outlined in the contract suggest the Army wants headsets capable of tracking weapons and allowing soldiers to see a virtual fire from real weapons, TechCrunch reported. This way, they could be used for training soldiers with real weapons like Javelin missile systems in a simulated environment.
Apart from simulated fire, Microsoft's Military headsets would have night vision, thermal sensing, and capabilities to measure vitals of the troops. They would be integrated with existing helmets and weigh no more than 1.5 pounds, according to contract documents. Plus, the field of view of the headsets would be between 55 and 110 degrees, much higher than that of the consumer version.
"Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions," a Microsoft spokesperson told Bloomberg. "This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area".
As part of this contract, Microsoft has to provide at least 2,500 prototype headsets to the Military within two years. If the company delivers on time while exhibiting its capacity for full-scale production, the contract could be extended to produce 1,00,000 headsets, per Bloomberg. If that happens, US Army would be one of Microsoft's biggest customers for HoloLenses.
This isn't the only case of AR being employed for combat. To recall, back in 2016, the Israeli military started using HoloLens for battlefield training, while the Ukrainian military employed the technology to enhance situational awareness for tank crews.