Microsoft is working with the United States Army to develop “mixed reality” viewers that promise to revolutionize technology applied to the military. The device in question is called VATAn acronym for Integrated Visual Augmentation System.
According to the Redmond corporation, these scopes will allow soldiers to see through a smokescreen, interact with holograms, or access 3D terrain maps, projected directly into your visual field. While IVAS is under development, the US Navy hopes to deliver the first scopes to its soldiers in September.
The peculiar fact is that the Microsoft engineers who developed the device participated in military training camps. In this way, they experienced first-hand how American soldiers operate and what are the main challenges they must face.
The IVAS visor for the United States Army is based on HoloLens technology. It works connected to a controller that the soldiers wear on their chests, integrated into their clothing. The “pack” of controls had to be redesigned, since the original version would break when the military had to crawl through different ground conditions.
Microsoft develops ‘mixed reality’ viewers based on HoloLens
According to the US company, the “mixed reality” viewers incorporate thermal imaging, sensors, GPS and night vision. “The devices allow soldiers to see where they are and what is around them by projecting holographic images, three-dimensional terrain maps and a compass in their field of view,” the developers explained.
All the information collected by IVAS is distributed through a tactical network, so that Soldiers can see where other squad members are. This feature is very useful, especially in operations performed in dark or very dense environments.
It is worth noting that Microsoft has been working on this viewer since 2018, when it won a contract from the United States Army for 480 million dollars. Since then, the Redmond firm has collected more than 80,000 hours of feedback from the soldiers who have tried it. The main challenge has been to get the device do not be uncomfortable or limit body movements, especially when aiming and firing a gun. On the other hand, the company has had to deal with internal complaints about the ethics behind the use of this technology in combat.
The “mixed reality” viewers for the US Army will be manufactured in Silicon Valley, and Microsoft hopes to have an initial production of 120 thousand units. The original link between the company and the military is five years, but can be expanded for five more. While the first IVAS will be for foot soldiers, experiments are already underway for their use in military vehicles.