Microsoft to Build 120,000 HoloLens Headsets for the U.S. Army

Posted on March 31, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Internet of Things (IoT), Hardware, Mobile, Wearables, Windows 10 with 21 Comments

Microsoft announced today that it has received a contract worth up to $21.88 billion over ten years to build 120,000 custom HoloLens headsets for the U.S. Army.

“The United States Army will work with Microsoft on the production phase of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program as it moves from rapid prototyping to production and rapid fielding,” Microsoft’s Alex Kipman announced. “The IVAS headset, based on HoloLens and augmented by Microsoft Azure cloud services, delivers a platform that will keep soldiers safer and make them more effective. The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.”

Microsoft has been working on this project with the U.S. Army for about three years and the contract is subject to a second approval after 5 years. If it’s approved a second time, it could be worth over $21 billion.

“The Army’s partnership with Microsoft redefined the timeline for rapid development and production of a major defense program by taking advantage of the Middle Tier of Acquisition and Other Transaction authorities, and partnering with a non-traditional defense contractor that is an industry leader in developing innovative technology,” the U.S. Army announcement notes.

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Microsoft to Build 120,000 HoloLens Headsets for the U.S. Army”

  1. hrlngrv

    Anyone care to guess how much Russia and China may be spending on battlefield EMP devices? If they create effective ones, this US Army-MSFT deal would be money well wasted as only the US military can do.

    That said, rear area or ship usage could make a lot more sense than forward area Army or Marine usage. But I'm not an Army procurement officer, so what do I know? Just a mildly concerned citizen wondering whether this will rival the F-35 program.

    • christophercollins

      I feel that this is likely an EMP safe design.

      I’d imagine any small electronics device acquisitions for near battlefield operations would meet to meet that criteria.

      I agree about the F35 whole heartedly, though.

    • behindmyscreen

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      The military has been deploying battlefield on-body information systems for decades now.

    • brinel321

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      When’s the last time you stepped foot in a combat zone? Every time an element goes on patrol they carry at minimum a blue force tracker enabled device with them.

    • VMax

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      "Battlefield EMP" is not really a thing that exists. If a conflict results in escalation to nuclear weapons, broken Hololenses are probably not going to be a major concern.

    • anoldamigauser

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Not sure about battlefield EMP devices, but as we rely more and more heavily on networked technology on the battlefield, they are eying the network as the weak link in our command and control. Twenty years of operations in the middle east has given them a pretty good idea of how we want to fight. I am guessing they are smart enough that they are not going to let us fight that way, if they have the chance. All these APT groups are not probing around and learning how to implement supply chain hacks for no reason. Those groups are all military affiliated.

  2. sharpsone

    I imagine it will initially be used for training and eventually evolve into full HUD integration with ground troops, vehicle operators. Battle armor is on the horizon... Some serious next GEN HARDWARE. The Army picked the right company, queue Master Chief intro song.

  3. behindmyscreen

    This is the perfect use case for this.

  4. crunchyfrog

    21 billion dollars so the U.S. Army can watch Pornhub and YouTube in the field.

  5. crunchyfrog

    So when soldiers in the field are readying for battle are they going to have to wait and watch the chasing dots while Windows finishes an update?

  6. hrlngrv

    I should stick with the $$$$. US$21.9 billion for 120K devices + system infrastructure means a cost of about US$183K per device.

    Granted the real work would go into the database which would supply the augmented reality, and MSFT's efforts with Cortana fill me with such assurance that that they're masters of all things outside the US. (That's sarcasm for those unfamiliar with the concept.)

  7. Martin Sjöholm

    "Noumberr wone Ruaschian haaker" is drooling over the proposition of '[US Army]$ sudo -kill -everyone -targetonly:Friendlies'

  8. John Craig

    The story title isn't complete. It should read: "Microsoft to build 120,000 HoloLens headsets for U.S Army....Amazon lose their sh!t, huff, puff and threaten to sue because their bid to supply 120,000 pairs of knock-off Rayban's wasn't successful." ?

  9. pecosbob04

    I wonder how these would be deployed (at what levels). The guys at the pointy end obviously have to have total situational awareness. With fighter pilots in Nam the closer they got to actual engagement the more systems (warning, assist) were shut down to let them focus on fighting the plane. With todays improved heads up displays and other systems this is hopefully not the case though I wouldn't want to bet on it. This may be useful for someone commanding a battle but I don't think the grunts would want them or be able to use them effectively. Does anyone know how the DOJ plans to utilize them.

    • scovious

      In reply to pecosbob04:

      Hopefully Microsoft insists they be used ethically, rather than helping to decide who lives and dies. Let that moral dilemma live with the soldiers and commanders that signed up for it.

  10. samp

    Will it come with Edge promotion built in?

  11. StevenLayton

    All those soldiers, having a massive Minecraft LAN party!

  12. youwerewarned

    This military Hololens variant will jack into the nearest Abrams tank and allow Bitcoin mining during lulls in the shooting. Net cost to Army thought to be zero.

  13. robinwilson16

    I could imagine it popping up with a big blue screen saying "Windows Update Needs Your Help" half way through battle with enemy troops or showing a restart prompt.