The US Army is awarding Microsoft with another order of advanced mixed reality goggles designed for combat situations, Bloomberg reports. Microsoft had sent the Army a batch of 20 updated prototype headsets in late July, which were tested by two squads of soldiers in August who responded positively to improvements in its design: namely, they no longer felt nauseous and pained while wearing them.
Microsoft, in the past year, has worked with the US Army to create HoloLens-like mixed reality headsets known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), but initial reports in 2022 indicated it was causing headaches, nausea, and eyestrain in testing. The problematic headsets were part of an order of 5,000 headsets the Army started taking delivery in September 2022.
The newer headsets, now on version 1.2, had “demonstrated improvements in reliability, low light sensor performance, and form factor,” Army spokesperson David Patterson tells Bloomberg. The US Army awarded Microsoft with another contract on September 5th for the new systems and to see if the company could scale production.
The US Army had asked Congress to fund its purchase of 6,900 headsets from Microsoft, but it was denied earlier this year. Instead, Congress reduced the $400 million in funding the Army requested to just $40 million to improve the system. The Army awarded Microsoft that money plus an additional $125 million to continue development.
The US Army plans to spend as much as $21.9 billion on the project, and the headset will undergo testing in 2025 by the Army for use in combat. Microsoft’s HoloLens tech continues to live on in these special military goggles, as the development of the home and work use cases of the headsets seems to have dropped off following layoffs affecting the teams involved in January.