American multinational tech giant Microsoft has won a deal to provide the US army with at least 120,000 augmented reality (AR) headsets in a significant move to bring the next generation of computing to the battlefield.
According to the Microsoft spokesperson, the contract could be worth up to $21.9 billion over 10 years, and headsets will be manufactured in the United States.
For the past two years, the tech giant has been collaborating with the US Army on the prototyping phase of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). The company has said the US Army had moved into the production phase of the project.
In a blog post, Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman commented that the headsets are designed to deliver “enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.”
This is not the first time Microsoft has collaborated with the military to develop augmented reality capabilities. In 2019, the British Army began testing HoloLens 2 headsets with 1,500 military personnel, to assist frontline medics carry out operations in war zones. The devices are programmed to send instructions to those providing emergency medical treatment on the ground from specialists anywhere in the world.
Furthermore, those on the ground will be able to share information about the injured, such as vital statistics, using the glasses in order to seek help from medical experts.
Microsoft was also in line to win a $10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract with the Pentagon, but the contract remains in dispute in a lawsuit filed by Amazon. Pentagon officials told US lawmakers that if the dispute is not resolved in court, the Defense Department may cancel the contract.