Microsoft wins $480 million HoloLens contract from US Army

Microsoft has signed a contract with the U.S. military that will see its AR headset HoloLens deployed into combat

The Redmond, Washington based tech giant will be providing prototypes of its augmented reality headset, for the Army to use in combat missions and in training. In October, a blog post purportedly written by Microsoft employees urged the company not to bid on a multi-billion dollar USA military cloud contract. The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets, is meant to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy", according to a government description of the program.

The Army would also like to incorporate night vision and thermal sensing into upcoming HoloLens headsets.

Mashable recently had the opportunity to Microsoft's HoloLens with its competitor Magic Leap. Also known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, the government's description of the program states its goal is to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy". Microsoft will reportedly release a new, cheaper model in early 2019.

One thing that seems to have worked in Microsoft's favor is that its HoloLens headsets are already used by the US Army for training.

"Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions", Microsoft said in a statement.

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It is unclear how Microsoft will be able to provide all of that for less than it sells enterprise versions of the HoloLens, but knowing U.S. government expenditures, the $480 million was probably just a development fee with a future purchasing price yet to be determined.

Only about 50,000 units have been sold so far, according to a recent Microsoft video.

The company will also need to be ready to go into full-scale production. "In the most positive way possible, we are going to work to help shape it". In response Microsoft's President and Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, wrote about possibly relocating various employees with ethical qualms over some projects.

The contract will require Microsoft to deliver 2,500 HoloLens devices within the first two years.

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