What just happened? Initially set to be delivered during the U.S. Army's fiscal year of 2021, Microsoft's augmented reality goggles rollout has been delayed by a full year, now expected to be delivered by September 2022. Despite the delay, the Army stated it's "fully committed" to the deal.
In April, Microsoft signed a $21.88 billion deal with the U.S. Army to supply 120,000 Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems (IVAS), augmented reality glasses based on Microsoft's HoloLens technology, over the next ten years. The AR glasses were set to be delivered last month, but the U.S. Army has updated the expected deployment date of the project to FY22, which ends in September 2022, delaying the whole thing by a year.
Microsoft began prototyping the system in 2018 after being awarded a $480 million contract, but the new deal involves creating finalized production versions for soldiers. The system combines high-resolution night, thermal, and soldier-borne sensors into a heads-up display.
In the timeline published by the U.S. Army, an operational test is scheduled for May 2022, and the first units should be equipped with IVAS in September 2022. With the tests, the U.S. Army expects to gather enough data to improve the IVAS, allowing "Soldiers achieve overmatch in Multi Domain Operations." Last month, the U.S. Army ran an adversarial electronic warfare and cybersecurity test to test the equipment and plans to do more throughout FY22.
The IVAS will consist of augmented reality glasses with multiple vision enhancement capabilities. Such features will improve the wearer's perception of the surroundings, helping it make better decisions that can be crucial in a fight scene. Moreover, the IVAS can also be used for practice, providing a "life-like mixed reality training environment," so the soldier can rehearse before engaging in a real-world fight.
Images credit: Reuters