Microsoft’s combat goggles for the US military, based on the Hololens 2, have hit a roadblock. Although the company had received an order worth approximately $400m to supply 6,900 goggles, the first tests showed that most soldiers suffered physical complaints such as nausea, headaches, and eyestrain. Subsequently, the US Congress stopped the order and ordered Microsoft and its project partners to improve the glasses.
Microsoft and partners will receive an additional $40m to improve the goggles. Bloomberg reports that the new glasses, called IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System), are expected to be issued to the troops in July 2025 at the earliest. The next version of the glasses will be smaller, lighter, more energy-efficient, and have improved software that runs more stably and consumes less power.
Microsoft and the military are suggesting changes to the glasses based on feedback from the soldiers. In July 2021, the first 20 handcrafted, improved copies will be sent to the army to be tested in the fall. If the tests are successful, the army will place an order for more glasses via a new contract that will be subjected to another test from summer 2024.
According to a weapons procurement officer from the US Army, the predecessor had put too much pressure on the schedule and start of production, and the tests had been disappointing. Furthermore, the improved glasses will only be produced if they meet the troops’ needs.
Microsoft confirmed that the IVAS project continues to work closely with the army, and hopefully, the new combat goggles will meet the soldiers’ expectations.