Earlier this summer, it was revealed that Microsoft will be shipping a package of new IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) devices to the US Army. These products are based on Microsoft’s HoloLens technology and were designed to help soldiers on the group with situational awareness.
Today, the ArmyTimes reports that the second phase of the IVAS evaluation was approved by the US Army. That likely means Microsoft will be developing more of these HoloLens-based devices to the US military in the coming months.
The report says that 20 IVAS prototypes were used by members of the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in August. They were tested for “weapons compatibility, navigation tools, and mission planning work”, according to the report.
The testing of the headsets provided information on how they fit and how well they function on the heads of the members of the 10th Mountain Division. The next phase of the IVAS program will see the US Army work with Microsoft to try to make the headsets more affordable.
Previously, Microsoft got a big 10-year contract to deliver these kinds of headsets to the military. The contract was worth $21.9 billion. However, after Microsoft sent the first versions of the AR headsets to the Army in 2021, they were found to be cumbersome to use by the soldiers on the field
Microsoft went back and made some changes to the form factor of the headset, according to the ArmyTimes report. The changes included “a hinge-like flip-up helmet mount instead of the strap-on goggle, a counterweighted battery on the back of the helmet and options to mount the controller along the user’s rib cage instead of on the chest” along with changes to the helmet’s cabling setup so the soldiers could avoid getting entangled in them
The next evaluation phase will take 18 months, according to the story. If all goes well, full production of the IVAS headsets could begin in 2025.