U.S. Army Could Waste $22 Billion on HoloLens

Posted on April 26, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 15 Comments

A U.S. Pentagon oversight body now expects the U.S. Army to “waste” up to $22 billion on its HoloLens project, called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). The revelation comes just one month after an internal Microsoft memo revealed that it expected negative feedback on HoloLens from the U.S. Army.

“Procuring IVAS without attaining user acceptance could result in wasting up to $21.88 billion in taxpayer funds to field a system that soldiers may not want to use or use as intended,” the oversight body writes in its audit report. “Program officials stated that, if soldiers do not love IVAS and do not find it greatly enhances accomplishing the mission, then soldiers will not use it. Army officials should establish policy requiring program officials to define suitable user acceptance levels.”

The reason why this money will be wasted is intriguingly redacted, as is much of the report.

But as The Register points out, the Army hasn’t yet determined how or even if servicemembers will use HoloLens in the field. Feedback from soldier surveys showed “both positive and negative user acceptance.”

“Our focus continues to be on developing IVAS to be a transformational platform that will deliver enhanced soldier safety and effectiveness,” a Microsoft statement notes.

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “U.S. Army Could Waste $22 Billion on HoloLens”

  1. Brian Hodges

    But the Army Chief of Staff LOVES this program so its going to get bought regardless if anybody actually uses it. It will be another system Company Commanders will have to inventory and account for in the Arms Rooms across the globe.

  2. hrlngrv

    The question would be whether AR would help identify friends/foes/noncombatants quickly or be distracting.

    Thinking about the current Russia-Ukraine War, how desperately do Javelin anti-tank fire teams need AR? Thinking in terms of failure scenarios, how effective would soldiers who had become reliant on AR become if the AR system failed in combat? And don't even begin with the chance of failure is remote. One of war's certainties is that systems fail at the worst possible times.

    • lvthunder

      It's no different than if any other piece of equipment a soldier uses fails. How bad is it if the gun fails for instance or if you are doing something at night and your night vision fails?

      • hrlngrv

        I suppose it depends on how dependent soldiers are on night vision equipment. Can they still see without it? Most should be able to if they're fit for infantry duty. Rifles jamming is also bad, but in combat there may be chances to borrow wounded comrade's rifles.

        Depends on what Army AR would be used to accomplish. If artillery spotters used it and got rusty on reading topographical maps and map coordinates, that could be bad. Hard to see it of much use for infantry unless the AR had detailed data about terrain and buildings. It could be useful in rear area technical procedures, but hard to see that worth US$20 billion.

        • Greg Green

          Many years ago I discovered MPs wouldn’t allow us in a part of Camp Pendleton without a gps of some sort. This area of Pendleton is bounded to the west by I5, the east by a very steep, very, very tall ridge. Easiest primitive navigation possible; keep the road to the left, your going north, to the right you’re going south. If you’re crossing traffic you’re going west, if you’re going uphill you’re going east. Yet they wouldn’t let us in at night without a GPS. Ridiculous reliance on technology when simple pathfinding will work well.

    • wright_is

      Or a sniper on recon playing solitaire, because nothing has happened for the last 2 hours and missing critical movement... :-D

  3. dftf

    Initially, when I first saw the headlines, I assumed "they must be using VR for training, using a first-person shooter style video-game" but no, these are for use on the field! Let's hope the batteries don't go flat, or they lose-signal or GPS signal, or decide to install a firmware-update at an inopportune moment. I'm sure this has no-chance of going badly...

  4. anoldamigauser

    I am sure that there are many jobs in the military that could benefit from AR, just as there are in corporations. Aircraft, vehicle, and electronics maintenance come to mind. Infantry does not. Just looking at the picture, the device looks fragile, the cord is bound to get snagged on something, and it looks like a great bit of leverage for an opponent in hand to hand combat.

    This is the Pentagon we are talking about, so I am not sure how far $22 billion would really go, but I am sure that it could buy some much needed replacements for the weapons being shipped to Ukraine. It would seem that if the odds of a kinetic war are increasing, we might want to have a stockpile of munitions for ourselves.

    • hrlngrv

      | hand to hand combat

      I figure AR would be the least of most soldiers' worries in hand to hand combat. How many instances of it were reported in Afghanistan? How much of it involved being attacked from behind (where AR would be less effective)?

      US$22 billion could buy more than 120K Javelin anti-tank missiles at $178K a pop. Enough to eliminate all Russia's and China's tanks combined at a 10% hit ratio. I have no idea what that ratio may be. Even more Stinger SAMs.

      As for the US and munitions, Europe/NATO/Cold War we had the advantage of army corps levels of weapons, ammo and materiel already in theater. First Gulf War the allied forces were up against an Iraq which had no means whatsoever to interdict allied military transports bringing what was needed to Saudi Arabia. Facing off against Russia or China would mean using whatever was ALREADY in theater because it'd be impossible to transport appreciable amount of equipment and personnel relatively unmolested. IOW, arms stockpiles in the US would only help repel those pesky Canadian and Mexican invaders.

  5. lvthunder

    Since none of us knows what its capabilities are and what the problems are it's hard to pass judgment. We don't know if Microsoft made them what they were asked for and the soldier looks at it and says I don't want that. You really don't know about how good these technology items are until you try them.

  6. eric_rasmussen

    I feel like HoloLens feel apart after Mike Ey was killed in a traffic accident. 😔

    I wish Microsoft invested more time and energy into the project, but these days if it's not Azure then the company considers it basically irrelevant.

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