US Army approves order for thousands of Microsoft combat goggles

A soldier wears a prototype of the U.S. Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System.

A soldier wears a prototype of the U.S. Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System in Fort Pickett, Virginia, 2020. (Courtney Bacon/US Army via Reuters)

LONDON — The U.S. Army has approved an order to buy thousands of Microsoft-made HoloLens combat goggles — years after employees at the tech giant called on the company to cancel its military contract.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Microsoft will begin delivering some of its 5,000 Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) goggle units after “boosting results from field testing.”

An order for 5,000 goggles was originally placed in March 2021, but was put on hold due to performance concerns. Army spokesman Jamal Beck said that Assistant Secretary of State for Acquisitions Douglas Bush “authorized the Army to begin embracing” the new technology.

A customized version of HoloLens goggles, augmented reality goggles provide users with a “heads-up display.” In other words, holograms are placed over the environment to give more information about what the user is already seeing.

The Army expects to spend about $21.9 billion on goggles over the next decade. A final test of the goggles he doesn’t have until October, but President Bush said:

Soldiers wearing IVAS prototypes in the woods of Fort Pickett.

Soldiers wearing IVAS prototypes in the woods of Fort Pickett. (Courtney Bacon/U.S. Army via Reuters)

HoloLens goggles are commercially available at $3,500 per set. Goggles are used in many industries, including healthcare, and are used by NASA.

Microsoft and the Army brokered their first deal in 2018 for $480 million. Months later in 2019, a group of Microsoft employees called on the company to cancel its contract because the technology was designed to “help people kill.” In a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith, employees said the company didn’t tell engineers “the intent of the software they were building.”

“We are alarmed that Microsoft is providing weapons technology to the U.S. military and helping governments of certain countries use the tools we have built to “increase lethality.” ,” wrote the worker. in the letter“We did not participate in the development of the weapon and demand a say in how our work is used.”

In a blog post, Smith said the company believes in “a strong defense of America” ​​and wants “those who defend it to have access to the best of America’s technology.”

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News.

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