Army tester warns that Microsoft Hololens-based AR goggles could get soldiers killed

midian182

Posts: 8,484   +104
Staff member
A hot potato: The Hololens-based AR goggles Microsoft provides to the US Army as part of a contract worth up to $22 billion have come in for more criticism after a user said they could endanger soldiers. "The devices would have gotten us killed," said the tester.

Microsoft was awarded a $480 million contract to provide the US Army with Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headsets in 2018, marking the beginning of a project that has brought much controversy for both entities.

The initial agreement was expanded in March 2021, ensuring Microsoft will provide finalized production versions, parts, and support in an agreement potentially worth up to $21.9 billion across a decade. The Army ordered an initial 5,000 units, valued at $373 million, with around 121,000 to be delivered over the course of the deal.

The first batch of headsets was supposed to be delivered in the fiscal year 2021 but was delayed by a year—the first deliveries only arrived last month. But it seems they're not without some serious issues.

According to excerpts from an Army report dictated to Insider, a tester has warned that the headsets pose a danger to soldiers due to the light they generate while active, which could alert enemy forces to a wearer's location. The glow from the display is said to be visible from hundreds of meters away.

According to a Microsoft employee briefed about the event, the headset failed in four out of six evaluation events during a recent "operational demo."

Other complaints about the headsets include limiting a soldier's field of view, including peripheral vision, when worn. They're also bulky and heavy enough to impede a wearer's movement.

Microsoft is directing all questions about IVAS to the Army. The military branch says it remains committed to the program and that the operational test so far has generally been considered a success. It did note, however, that the results have shown areas where IVAS has fallen short and needs additional improvements.

The report marks another bump in the road for the long-term IVAS project. Microsoft's original deal resulted in an open letter of objection from employees, forcing CEO Satya Nadella to respond. In April, a Department of Defense oversight agency warned that the massive amount the Army was spending on the goggles could be a waste of taxpayer money as many soldiers weren't fans of IVAS.

Microsoft is said to have expected pushback against the goggles from the beginning. As for the Army, it keeps pointing to the introduction of night vision goggles in the 1970s that received similar criticisms but are now widely used.

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yRaz

Posts: 4,982   +6,448
While I think this whole thing is dumb I'm not surprised they found issues during testing. I mean, that's kind of the whole point of TESTING a product.

One reason that I'm against this, and it isn't one you might expect, is that the soldiers become reliant on it. These are battery powered and if they run out of juice while behind enemy lines in unexpected circumstances their dependence on it could get them killed.

It certainly seems like a great idea for heightened battlefield awareness but if it breaks, and they will, the individual is now at a significant disadvantage. More so than if they had trained from the beginning without it. A friend of mine spend 20 years in the Marines and he still prefers to use a map and compass over his GPS.
 

RudyBob

Posts: 893   +914
There is a long history in the military of faulty gear. Bad planes, bad torpedoes, bad etc. What matters now is that it is recognized, evaluated and corrected. Isn't it just like the "media" to glom onto a shortcoming and think the sky is falling. Joining the military may get someone killed but any headlines on that?
 
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PEnnn

Posts: 1,010   +1,361
The industrial complex shills at the Pentagon (who will leave to work at the same companies they push purchasing from) - think that turning soldiers into lumbering borgs is a great idea.

And of course, those shills won't be wearing those expensive toys and facing real bullets.
 

Rq3EWAq

Posts: 169   +172
That's how you end when you but products like these... from Microsoft 😆 Wonder what soldiers will do with bluescreen on their entire display if that happens 😆
 

Bluescreendeath

Posts: 331   +505
Sign a 10 year $22B deal.
Accept delivery of the first 5000 headsets a year late.
THEN test them?

WHAT?!

It is not a 10 year 22b deal "yet." It is an initial deal for a few years worth a few hundred million, and this deal can then be renewed and expanded for up to 10 years and 22 billion.

Given the criticism and problems with the devices, it is unlikely the contract will reach the full 22b and 10 years if the product doesn't significantly improve.
 

lazer

Posts: 458   +140
Micro$lop is NOT a technical company, it is a marketing company that makes money selling technical things for high prices.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,723   +2,690
It's not VR.
It's part of the development process. It's not the final product. Most of the gear we use has had a bunch of revisions.
When you put it on and can't see, that's something that should have been acknowledge at the prototype stage. Not after you manufacture and ship 5K units....
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,828   +984
When you put it on and can't see, that's something that should have been acknowledge at the prototype stage. Not after you manufacture and ship 5K units....
I think some people put it on and it worked fine for them. That's the thing. Some people have no problems with VRs, other experience nausea and headaches.
 
Worth bearing in mind these are not just AR goggles, they are Night vision and thermals. Once they are fully tested and improved they will be invaluable.

I think some people put it on and it worked fine for them. That's the thing. Some people have no problems with VRs, other experience nausea and headaches.

It is not VR, there is no disconnect between your brain seeing you are walking but you are standing still. It is AR, a form of it, which is more like a heads up display.

They didn't say how many soldiers were affected, nausea and headaches are both symptoms of eyestrain.

I get that with VR but the more you use it the more accustomed you get to it.

When you put it on and can't see, that's something that should have been acknowledge at the prototype stage. Not after you manufacture and ship 5K units....

Erm no, those 5000 units are the prototypes. They get issued out to training units, the soldiers ***** about them, they then improve them based on this.

They can see them, the goggle's cut down on the FOV because of image stability, but they still offer almost double the field of view of current NVGs.
 
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