In 2021, the US military signed a contract with Microsoft worth 22 billion dollars, and it refers to the purchase of “smart” glasses intended for soldiers.
A year after the deal was signed, the program has been plagued by delays and performance has dropped in four of six tests conducted by the US military.
The deal was originally signed with Microsoft in 2018 and was worth $480 million for the company to develop a prototype of advanced smart glasses called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS for short. Although the glasses were similar in appearance to the commercially available Microsoft HoloLens glasses, the military requested IVAS to be even more advanced.
Specifically, the military’s desire was to integrate several technologies into a single platform for soldiers to use during training, exercises, and combat. The goggles had to have high-resolution night vision and thermal sensors. According to the contract, Microsoft was to deliver 120,000 IVAS headsets over a period of up to 10 years, and the total price was 22 billion dollars.
But the device didn’t perform well in four out of six demonstration tests, the report said, Business Insider reported.
One drawback is that the display is visible from several hundred meters away, which could alert enemies and give away the location of US troops.
A second problem is the limited field of vision and peripheral vision when wearing the glasses, as well as the limited movement of soldiers given the size and weight of the device.
Despite the poor results, the US military still plans to buy IVAS, but it needs to make improvements that are already being worked on by Microsoft.