Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headgear has been in development for a number of years, but there hasn’t been any recent news. When it comes to a consumer release, Microsoft has been somewhat silent on the technology since we first saw presentations of it in 2015
However recently according to Bloomberg Microsoft has begun shipping the first lot of military HoloLens headsets.
There has been plenty of speculations with Microsoft’s deal to supply the United States Army with HoloLens tech. We first got glimpse of the deal back in 2018 with talks of a $480 million contract to help “increase lethality” of combat missions. It wasn’t until 2021 that Microsoft officially signed a much pricier $22 billion dollar contract with the army for military grade HoloLens supply.
The HoloLens augmented reality technology offers a heads-up display offering the wearer extra information via an Integrated Audio Visual System, or IVAS. It’s been compared to what a pilot in a jet might see, built into a helmet for soldiers that also includes night vision.
The display could help in identifying structures, providing distances, highlighting moving objects, and so on. When you consider that these are made for use in actual combat, it is somewhat alarming that it sounds a lot like a videogame user interface.
Microsoft has previously defended its cooperation with the US military amid employees protests. CEO Satya Nadella stated
We made a principled decision that we’re not going to withhold technology from institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy,”
Regardless of the controversies surrounding the deal its safe to say that the agreement with US military will be the step in the right direction. It shows Microsoft’s approach towards AI and how they plan to implement it.