Are Microsoft’s billions of dollar worth smart goggles for the U.S. Army proving to be a failure?

    Last year, Microsoft was awarded around $22 billion contract by the U.S. Army to produce mixed-reality headsets.


    The U.S. soldiers have complained of headaches, eyestrain and nausea while using Microsoft’s new goggles in their latest field test, some media reports highlighted recently.


    “More than 80% of those (soldiers) who experienced discomfort had symptoms after less than three hours using the customized version of Microsoft’s HoloLens goggles,” Bloomberg reported, citing the Nickolas Guertin, director of Operation Test and Evaluation, in a summary for Army and Defense Department officials. The system also is still experiencing too many failures of essential functions, the report added, citing Guertin.


    According to another report by Insider, as read on interesting engineering, the smart goggles failed in four out of six evaluation events in a recently conducted “operation demo”. One such shortfall was that the glow of smart goggle’s display could be seen even from several meters away, putting the soldiers at the risk of being easily spotted by the enemy. Some other prominent issues that the soldier faced were restricted field view and peripheral vision along with limited movement due to size and weight of the device.


    However, despite the goggle’s poor performance in the test, the U.S. Army stays committed to acquiring the IVAS device and an Army spokesperson even regarded the evaluation a success. “The emerging results indicate that the program achieved success in most of the Army evaluation criteria,” Brigadier General Christopher D. Schneider told Insider. “However, the results also identified areas where IVAS fell short and needs additional improvements, which the Army will address.”


    Image Credit: Microsoft
    Image Credit Microsoft


    Last year, Microsoft was awarded around $22 billion contract by the U.S. Army to produce mixed-reality headsets based on the company’s HoloLens technology. “The devices, using what is called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), will allow soldiers to see through smoke and around corners, use holographic imagery for training and have 3D terrain maps projected onto their field of vision at the click of a button,” according to a blog post by Microsoft.


    The goggles are also a hot topic among the U.S. lawmakers who earlier this year proposed cutting $350 million of the U.S. Army’s $400 million procurement request for the Microsoft’s combat goggle pending the outcome of the testing. However, the Army is still rooting for the device and have commenced taking delivery of the first batch of some 5,000 IVAS last month.


    author avatar
    Monika Asthana




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