Microsoft is selling the US Army 100,000 HoloLens mixed reality headsets for infantry use in combat missions.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) awarded Microsoft with the lucrative $480 million contract to produce up to 100,000 HoloLens headsets, Bloomberg reports.
The military’s exact plans for the HoloLens augmented or ‘mixed’ reality devices are still to be fully revealed, but the deal clearly represents the trend towards the use of AR, VR and mixed reality technologies within what is euphemistically referred to as ‘the theatre of war’.
The new Microsoft contract is intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to a rather chilling government description.
“Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area,” added a Microsoft spokesman.
The US Army and Israeli military have already used Microsoft’s HoloLens for training, but it has not yet been used on the battlefield.
According to a video made for the European Patent Office Microsoft has so far sold about 50,000 devices.
That means that the US Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System contract has just doubled the number of HoloLens that Microsoft has sold to date!
The Army want to augment and improve the features on the consumer-grade HoloLens by, for example, adding night vision, thermal sensing, the ability to measure vital signs including breathing and “readiness”, to offer hearing protection and to monitor for concussions.
The latest Microsoft news comes amid the wide use of HoloLens in military training for some time now.
Other companies that were included in the tender or bidding process were Magic Leap, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
TechRadar reports that earlier this year, Microsoft employees protested the company’s entertaining a contract with the US DoD’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, project.
“Many Microsoft employees don’t believe that what we build should be used for waging war,” those disgtuntled employees wrote in a blog post on Medium.