The Chinese military has incorporated Microsoft's HoloLens 2 headsets into its training regimen, as revealed in a broadcast by China's state-run CCTV-7 and found by Newsweek. The Air Force engineer trainees are reported to use the augmented reality device for simulation purposes, which enables them to gain a more profound comprehension of aircraft maintenance without physical interaction with the equipment.
Military Modernization Efforts
The segment broadcasted on CCTV-7 showcases the People's Liberation Army's intent to harness augmented reality technology to improve operational efficiency. The South China Morning Post corroborates the PLA's ambition, citing the military's ongoing endeavors to integrate mixed reality technology in controlling unmanned crafts.
The demonstration aligns with concepts Microsoft has previously emphasized: gesture-based computing and augmented reality's role in enhancing remote training capabilities. Trainees were seen practicing fighter jet engine repairs using augmented reality versions of tools like drills and wrenches.
Microsoft's Stance Amidst Export Ban
Despite the appearance of HoloLens in the Chinese military, recent restrictions imposed by the U.S on exporting certain technologies to China, including chips, raises questions about the legality of this usage. Furthermore, Microsoft's existing multi-billion dollar contract with the U.S Army for the development of HoloLens-based technology ostensibly adds complexity to the situation. Microsoft has yet to announce any connection with the Chinese military and is expected to focus on fulfilling its contractual obligations with the U.S Army, which includes updating its HoloLens 2 for upcoming field tests.
While details remain sparse regarding how the Chinese military acquired the HoloLens 2 headsets, the incident highlights the global interest in augmented reality technologies and raises concerns about the enforcement of export controls. As the situation continues to unfold, Microsoft and other technology providers will likely face increased scrutiny regarding the distribution of their products amid international trade restrictions.