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Microsoft wins $22 billion Army contract to produce augmented-reality headsets for soldiers


The Army is moving forward with a cutting-edge program to give tens of thousands of service members augmented-reality headsets in a move that could transform how soldiers fight the wars of tomorrow.

The Pentagon announced a deal with Microsoft worth up to nearly $22 billion to produce the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), a platform that’s been in the works for several years but is now ready for the production line.

This week’s announcement, the Defense Department says, “transitions IVAS to production and rapid fielding,” meaning that Microsoft will soon begin actually building the futuristic goggles.

Pentagon officials say that IVAS will redefine a soldier’s view of the battlefield, providing them with real-time data while not compromising their vision.

“The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified ‘Heads Up Display’ to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries,” the Army said in a statement Wednesday. “The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the [Close Combat Force] can rehearse before engaging any adversaries.”

The system is based on Microsoft‘s HoloLens and augmented by the company’s Azure cloud services. Microsoft said the technology will keep soldiers safer.

“The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios,” the company said in a statement.

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