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Delays in Military HoloLens Deployment: Addressing Flaws and Enhancing Soldier Comfort

Microsoft Corp.’s military version of their HoloLens headset, known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), faces a delay of at least two years. The U.S. Army requires the company to first fix issues that caused headaches, nausea, and eyestrain among soldiers. If the goggle passes its tests, the Army plans to field a version starting in July 2025.

The latest IVAS model is designed to be slimmer, lighter, and more comfortable for soldiers. It also promises software improvements for enhanced reliability and reduced power demand. Intended to provide a “heads-up display” for U.S. ground forces, the IVAS is based on Microsoft’s HoloLens “mixed reality” goggles.

Deployment of the military version would unlock billions of dollars for procurement. However, Congress remains hesitant to release funds until proof of improvements is provided. Over a decade, the Army projects spending up to $21.9 billion for 121,000 devices, spares, and support services if all options are exercised. The Army has already accepted 5,000 early version goggles, with another 5,000 of the next version pending.

The upcoming version 1.2 of the IVAS will feature a slimmer design to counterbalance front weight, reducing neck strain for soldiers. Its target weight is 2.85 pounds, equal to the currently fielded Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular (ENVG-B). Improved features of the IVAS 1.2 include better eye relief, weapons compatibility, air flow, processing software, and a display that provides peripheral vision.

One of the major new features is the addition of color-coded navigation points and map-marking features, viewable in the goggle either in map format or in rotating compass headings. This will improve navigation and communication between soldiers. The updated IVAS will also offer enhanced training features, such as tracking goggle wearers through simulated shoot house scenarios and allowing instant replays of their moves and shots for review and improvement.

Despite previous challenges with image distortion, reduced field of view, and cases of dizziness and nausea, Microsoft’s team is working on addressing these issues. Lessons learned from other high-tech efforts and partnerships with experts from various fields are being applied to enhance the device. As the technology evolves, the IVAS promises to become an indispensable tool for soldiers, improving situational awareness, communication, navigation, and training.

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