Microsoft wins $480M contract to provide US Army with HoloLens headsets for combat use

Microsoft could provide the Army with up to 100,000 headsets for thermal imaging and to measure soldiers' vital signs

Microsoft will be supplying the US Army with HoloLens headsets for use in battle, it has been revealed.

The tech giant has won the contract, worth $480 million, with its augmented reality headsets to be used during combat missions and as well as for training purposes.

Although the specifics of the deal haven't been confirmed by Microsoft, Bloomberg reports that the US government may buy as many as 100,000 headsets to supply its troops - twice as many as Microsoft has reportedly sold to businesses and developers.

They will be used as part of a wider Army programme, known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy" the government explained.

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"Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area," a Microsoft spokesman added.

Although the US government has already been using augmented reality to train troops, this is the first time Microsoft's technology will be used in real combat. But it's unlikely its technology will be used to directly inflict harm.

The Army explained the HoloLens wouldn't be used to actively fight opponents, but it would offer thermal imaging capabilities, to measure the health of soldiers and monitor for potential injuries, such as hearing problems or concussion.

Microsoft won the contract after it was invited to put forward a proposal alongside other augmented reality leaders including Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Microsoft has come under fire by its own employees in the past for selling technology to the government. Earlier this year, its employees wrote a letter objecting to an AI contract with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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