The American military is planning to spend an exorbitant amount of taxpayer money on augmented reality technology. Following up on a test in 2018, the US Army will spend, or waste, $22 billion on battle ready versions of Microsoft HoloLens Augmented Reality glasses.
Why is the US Army using Microsoft HoloLens?
Reported by The Register, the American military is planning to go hard on mixed reality. Similar to its recent investment in a SpaceVerse virtual world to train cadets in, the Army is aiming to use AR headsets to assist soldiers in battle.
In 2018, the US Army tested the effectiveness of HoloLens in a $480 million deal for 100,000 prototype glasses. These glasses were used to test an “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” that would give soldiers a live heads-up display in battle.
Fast forward to 2022, the American armed forces is planning to spend $22 billion on augmented reality technology. For the next round of headsets, the military wants to create custom HoloLens headsets purposefully designed for combat environments.
If this technology does get created, it will be part of a massive $22 billion deal across ten years. However, both soldiers and The Pentagon are torn on the effectiveness the augmented reality tech will have in the midst of battle.
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The Pentagon is confused
In an audit report surrounding the proposed HoloLens deal, the US Dept of Defense's Office of the Inspector General explained that it may not be the best use of taxpayer money. The audit explained that soldiers may not want to use the AR glasses, especially for their intended purpose.
While confirming that response is mixed from soldiers, the report explained: “Procuring IVAS without attaining user acceptance could result in wasting up to $21.88 billion in taxpayer funds to field a system that soldiers may not want to use or use as intended.”
Nevertheless, Microsoft is still looking to improve its technology for military use. Talking to The Register, the company claimed: “Our focus continues to be on developing IVAS to be a transformational platform that will deliver enhanced soldier safety and effectiveness."
Of course, immediate adoption and acceptance by soldiers isn’t expected by anyone, especially as tech such as night vision took decades to properly take off. However, if armed forces can’t get along with HoloLens, what's the point?