02 Apr 2021: Microsoft signs $21.8 billion deal with the US Army
Microsoft has received a contract worth $21.8 billion from the Department of Defense (DoD) to supply the US Army with 120,000 augmented reality headsets, the Pentagon recently announced.
This is a 10-year-long deal, with the first five years being the base period and the next five-year term optional.
This follows a 2018 deal where the DoD paid Microsoft $480 million for AR headsets.
Post-human: Headsets will make soldiers more efficient and keep them safe
The AR headsets will be used by the members of the US Army and will provide soldiers with better situational awareness to make them a more effective fighting force.
Commanders can share tactical data, target information, and other real-time data with soldiers on the field. The military-grade AR headsets will also offer soldiers night-vision capabilities.
Universal soldier: The AR headset is based on Microsoft's HoloLens 2 platform
The AR headsets that will be supplied to the US Army will use the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).
It is a custom design based on the company's standard HoloLens 2 AR headset that costs $3,500 in the US.
The headset will also use Microsoft's Azure Cloud Services to receive all the information on the fly.
Second innings: A previous deal focused on creating AR headset prototypes
Microsoft had signed a $480 million deal with the US DoD back in 2018 to build prototypes of AR headset for the United States Army.
At that time, the contract detailed that it could lead to a follow-up deal to provide more than 100,000 AR headsets to the defense institution in a bid to modernize the US fighting forces.
Collateral damage: The new deal is a transition to production stage
According to Microsoft, it has worked closely with the US Army over the past two years and pioneered Soldier Centered Design. It says that the new deal marks a transition from working on prototypes for AR headsets to producing and delivering the product.
The Army suggests that the augmented reality technology could help soldiers target enemies and prevent the killing of civilians.