The main difference is the imager installed at the top of the device.
The US Army first showed IVAS, the military version of the HoloLens mixed reality headset. Microsoft technology will be used to train soldiers and increase their effectiveness. The military exclusively told about the system to CNBC and provided the first pictures.
IVAS (The Integrated Visual Augmentation System, Integrated Visual Add-on System) is a modified version of the HoloLens 2 headset. The system became part of the 480 million contract between the Pentagon and Microsoft, which the company won in 2019.
The military received the first versions of the headset in March 2019 and have already begun to test them. As noted in CNBC, the US Army could decide for a few years what it needed, and sometimes the technology got to the battlefield in 20 years. However, much has changed since then, for example, there was a separate division with which companies can work directly.
CNBC was not allowed to take an IVAS job, but reporter Todd Haselton was allowed to wear a headset and talk about their feelings. The journalist noted that the use of the device is similar to a computer game in the style of Call of Duty.
After switching on the headset showed a map of the building with the location of the user and all other members of the squad with IVAS. But as it turned out in the army, the map can distract the soldiers, so a strip with a compass was placed at the top. It also has dynamic notes, for example, about which side is the ally or the enemy.
According to Hazelton, for him, the device interface looked natural, because he spent a lot of time in first-person shooters. The journalist separately noted the advanced night vision capabilities that work with the FLIR thermal imager .
When I tried the night vision, people painted bright white, as if everyone in the room had become ghosts. With the lights off, I saw someone standing behind the ferns, which I could not have noticed otherwise.
Todd Hazelton CNBC reporter
To aim the soldiers, it is enough to point the weapon at the enemy. The target designator is integrated into IVAS and is also shown through the display.
The army noted that they were going to test the headset, not only in combat, but also for training. As planned by the military, the devices will allow analyzing the actions of the soldiers and improving performance.
For example, after a sweep training session at a training center, soldiers will see a report on their effectiveness collected by IVAS.
The current version of IVAS does not allow wearing a headset with helmets, but in the army they are going to seriously reduce the device. One of the leaders said that within six months the device will look like sunglasses.
About the contract of Microsoft and the Pentagon became known in November 2018. According to Bloomberg, in the Army are going to buy about 100 thousand headsets, and in 2028 to adopt them.
In February 2019, Microsoft introduced HoloLens 2, and the company’s employees openly opposed the contract with the military. A few days later, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella responded to a letter from employees, stating that the company would continue to fulfill the contract.