According to Bloomberg, the US Army was pleased with the headsets after two squads of soldiers tried them out in August and gave positive feedback on the device, saying they no longer felt pain or even nausea while wearing the headset.
“Now, we have to make this system producible and affordable,” said Gen. Christopher Schneider, program executive office-soldier commander, Brig.
A crucial testing phase
The Windows company also collaborated with the US Army last year to develop HoloLens-like MR headsets called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). However, initial tests in 2022 revealed that the headsets caused headaches, nausea, and eyestrain.
According to Army spokesperson David Patterson, the newer headsets had, “Demonstrated improvements in reliability, low light sensor performance, and form factor.” This led to Microsoft receiving another contract for the new systems on September 5th.
The Verge also reported that earlier this year, the US Army requested Congress to fund the acquisition of 6,900 headsets from Microsoft. However, the request was denied. Instead, Congress allocated only $40 million, significantly reducing the initial funding of $400 million, to enhance the system.
Testing for use in combat
The Army then granted Microsoft the allocated funds of $40 million and an additional $125 million to continue the development process. The US Army also plans to spend up to $21.9 billion on the project as it looks forward to testing the headset for combat use in 2025.
“We would like to emphasize testing at scale. If afforded the opportunity we would like to be able to test at the battalion size level for the operational tests,” said Lt. Col. Denny Dresch, the IVAS product manager for program executive office soldier.
Microsoft’s HoloLens technology is still being used in these special military goggles, even though the development of HoloLens for home and work use seems to have slowed down after layoffs in January.