Microsoft Expects HoloLens to Disappoint Soldiers

Microsoft Expects HoloLens to Disappoint Soldiers


This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

(Photo: Microsoft)
Today select US Army soldiers are beginning to receive Microsoft-made mixed reality glasses tailored for military use. But the technology behind the glasses might not work as intended—a possibility Microsoft knows of and is apparently okay with. 

Microsoft entered into its $480 million contract with the Army back in 2018, agreeing to provide the military branch with HoloLens mixed reality (Microsoft’s preferred name for augmented reality) glasses designed for training and combat. The devices, referred to as “Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) prototypes,” have been intended from the beginning to enhance soldiers’ ability to “detect, decide, and engage before the enemy.” By the end of the multi-year project, Microsoft will have sent the Army 100,000 helmet-friendly HoloLens devices with added thermal vision, night vision, vital sign measurement, and hearing protection.

That is, if Microsoft can hold up its end of the bargain. Microsoft’s HoloLens project has been a mess so far, with confusion on overall strategy and several teammate departures contributing to a web of misunderstandings. Last month several Microsoft employees told the media they thought the HoloLens team had thrown in the towel. This is despite the company publicly proclaiming HoloLens was a “critical part” of Microsoft’s metaverse development, which it is still very much committed to and actively working on. Now, even as Microsoft ships some of the devices it promised, those on the company’s military contract team seem to be aware that soldiers’ hands-on testing experiences could very well be discouraging.

(Photo: Microsoft)

“We are going into the event expecting negative feedback from the customer. We expect soldier sentiment to continue to be negative as reliability improvements have been minimal from previous events,” one Microsoft employee said in an internal memo reviewed by Business Insider. “Sounds like the Army is coming in with low expectations to which might be advantageous as the expectations/delivery delta might not be big.” The employee’s memo went on to set the expectation that soldiers may be dissatisfied with the devices’ lack of adaptability to low light, as well as the devices’ degraded thermal imaging performance. It also disclosed that while the Army is expecting to receive brand-new, clean HoloLens glasses, 34 of the shipped devices have already been used by Microsoft staff. 

Spokesperson Frank Shaw told Business Insider the shipment is “part of an ongoing process to engage directly with the soldiers to further improve and enhance the device.” That doesn’t seem to have been conveyed prior to the internal memo becoming public, though, so it’s difficult to know whether Microsoft’s technology is truly in beta testing or if this is a case of a spokesperson just doing his job. 

Now Read:





Source link


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.