Our First Look At The Controversial US Army HoloLens AR Headset

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According to CNBC, this modified version of the HoloLens 2 will be used on and off the battlefield.

Back in November of last year, it was reported that Microsoft would be entering a $479M contract with the United States military to supply the Army with 100,000 modified HoloLens headsets. That following February, A group of Microsoft employees released a statement to Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, and its president, Brad Smith, condemning the decision and expressing outrage over the potential use of HoloLens technology for combat purposes.

“We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US Military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built,” states the disgruntled employees in the letter. “We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.”

HoloLens 2 in the field. / Image Credit: US Army

Since then, Microsoft has pushed forward with the program, reconfirming their dedication towards providing new technologies to organizations “dedicated towards the defense of democratic values.”

Thanks to an exclusive inside-look provided by CNBC, we now have our first real look at the modified HoloLens 2, offering us better insight into the specific use-case scenarios of these state-of-the-art AR devices. This biggest change from the commercial edition of the headset comes in the form of the ‘Integrated Visual Augmentation System,’ otherwise known as IVAS.

A CNBC render of the map a soldier would see in AR / Image Credit: Kyle Walsh of CNBC

This advanced heads-up display offers the wearer a plethora of real-time data layered directly over their field-of-view. This includes precise compass positioning, a virtual map of the operator’s location including that of their squadmates, and an on-screen reticle indicating the line-of-sight of the operator’s weapon.

There’s also the inclusion of a FLIR thermal camera located above the headsets lense, allowing for both thermal and night vision capabilities. This will allow the operators to perform more efficiently in poor visual conditions, such as smoke, fog, or darkness.

A CNBC render of the headsets thermal camera capabilities. / Image Credit: Kyle Walsh of CNBC

According to CNBC, the US Army is currently looking to continue field tests through 2022 and hopes to actually deploy the technology into battlefields sometime around 2028.


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