US Army: Microsoft's 22 Billion AR Glasses Are a Real Mess

US Army: Microsoft’s 22 Billion AR Glasses Are a Real Mess

The US military values ​​its reputation as the best-equipped military in the world. But sometimes this penchant for cutting-edge technology can also bring some unpleasant surprises; the US Army is experimenting with it right now with Microsoft’s smart glasses, much to the chagrin of US taxpayers.

In 2021, the US government signed a massive $22 billion contract with Microsoft. The goal: to equip their soldiers with state-of-the-art “smart” glasses. In practice, these devices look a bit like HoloLens-like augmented reality goggles. On the other hand, these IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System), are much more sophisticated.

They should allow warfighters to access a whole panoply of advanced systems thanks to a single device. On the menu: high-definition night vision, thermal camera, real-time indications of the enemy’s position… We immediately understand why he won over the General Staff.

unconvinced soldiers

But since then, this team has faced reality on the ground. And the least we can say is that it is still a long, long way from delivering on all of its promises. It is even the opposite; Until now, these glasses have given instructors more headaches than relevant information. According to the Business Insidernot only were the deliveries late and leaky, but the devices weren’t even working properly.

They would have failed four of the six basic tests the army imposes on this equipment before even considering using it in real conditions. The source did not explain all of them; but says IVAS were found to be too heavy and cumbersome, to the point of affecting soldiers’ mobility. Also, they drastically reduce the field of vision, anything but ideal in the middle of a battlefield.

And the icing on the cake is that the craftsmanship produces a characteristic shine… which can be visible from several hundred meters away — the perfect recipe for taking a bullet to the head. “ This device would have killed us. “One of the testers quoted by Business Insider explains very soberly. Elements that look bad when we talk about an eleven-figure contract…

Towards a great industrial fiasco?

However, US military personnel continue to have confidence in Microsoft. An official spokesperson for the institution said that the program met “most” of the evaluation criteria, contradicting the evaluator interviewed by Business Insider. However, the same spokesperson admitted that the tests identified several points where IVAS did not meet expectations.

Microsoft, on the other hand, seems more lucid about the current state of its product. In an email retrieved by the same source in the spring, an employee explained in black and white that the Redmond firm expected “ negative feedback “I would definitely go” remain negative as improvements have been minimal “.

So it will be interesting to see if these IVAS will finally be functional in the near future. In any case, Microsoft will have to pass the second; the army is now waiting 120,000 copies which must be delivered within 10 years. If she fails, it could be the first step in a vaster industrial disaster It’s not the kind of publicity Satya Nadella needs, knowing that she has already drawn the ire of certain employees by agreeing to work with the military.

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