Following a rocky report from soldiers’ field-testing HoloLens headsets last summer, Congress is less interested in ordering more, but more interested in Microsoft fixing its current batch.
According to a Bloomberg report, Congress has snatched the purse from the Army which requested $400 million to buy some 6,900 new custom HoloLens headsets from Microsoft in 2023. Instead, Congress has made $40 million of the Army’s requested $400 million available to develop a new model of the HoloLens headset to accompany the co-developed Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) that’s currently being fielded.
Citing the results of the 30-day field test conducted by the Army last May with Microsoft’s retrofitted HoloLens headset as the reason it has rejected buying more HoloLens headsets for the Army in 2023.
Over 80 percent of soliders who wore Microsoft’s HoloLens headset during the field test reported experiencing “mission-affecting physical impairments,” such as nausea, headaches or eye fatigue within hours of testing the units. In addition to the soliders discomfort using the headsets in real-time, the Army also reported high levels of testing parameter failures.
While the news may seem like a black eye for Microsoft’s partnership with the Army, the reality is that neither are giving up on the project. Microsoft will be getting $40 million in addition to the $125 million it was awarded last month to create version 1.2 of its field ready augmented reality powered headset.
Microsoft will need to t take the recently released $165 million from Congress to fix the militarized version of HoloLens and address the “physiological impacts identified during testing, and a lower profile Heads-Up Display with distributed counterweight for improved user interface and comfort”
While Microsoft may not get the requested $400 million to manufacture HoloLens headsets for the Army this year, it will get some money to keep the partnership going rather than trying to pitch a yard sale for 5,000 nausea augmented reality tech.