Last year, Microsoft expanded its partnership to stock the US Army with HoloLens 2 and help develop new technology. Known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), the contract is worth $22 billion to the company. However, a leaked memo suggests the deal is not going so well.
IVAS will leverage location data from soldiers over a tactical range to provide visualizations of where other soldiers in a squadron are. This will be valuable in low-visibility situations such as in smoke, sandstorms, or jungle.
The deal states Microsoft must provide 120,000 IVAS equipped HoloLens 2 devices. Testing has been ongoing since late 2021 and Microsoft is now preparing for feedback from the US Army. A memo discovered by Business Insider shows the company isn't too optimistic about the results.
David Marra, the General Manager for AI and Mixed Reality at Microsoft, questions the abilities of HoloLens, claiming the device has not really improved:
“We (Microsoft) are going into the event expecting negative feedback from the customer.
We expect soldier sentiment to continue to be negative as reliability improvements have been minimal from previous events.”
Not All Bad
In other words, the Army is likely to be unimpressed by HoloLens, especially in terms of thermal imaging and low-light performance. It also seems 34 devices were sent already unboxed on accident after they were used for testing by Microsoft.
One unnamed Microsoft employee puts a positive spin on the concern:
“Sounds like the Army is coming in with low expectations to [sic]which might be advantageous as the expectations/delivery delta might not be big.”
Frank Shaw, the Corporate Vice President of Communications at Microsoft, cools the downbeat outlook by says the contract is “part of an ongoing process to engage directly with the soldiers to further improve and enhance the device”.
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