The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that it has signed a $21.88 billion, 10-year contract for Microsoft to provide the U.S. Army with its augmented reality services and adapt its “HoloLens,” which allow remote work and information visualization.
Microsoft will produce more than 120,000 “HoloLens”, augmented reality glasses, and counts on adapting them to the needs of the U.S. Army.
This is the first major success for the Redmond (Washington) company’s augmented reality technology, which has involved years of investment, research and development and which has yet to be embraced by the general public in consumer technology.
This new contract is in addition to the one closed in 2018 worth $480 million to produce prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmented System, or IVAS.
IVAS technology allows soldiers to locate targets, guide themselves in the field, receive communications or achieve better coordination in real time.
The incorporation of the more advanced “HoloLens” will, according to Microsoft, allow for better situational awareness, information sharing and “faster decision-making in a variety of scenarios.”
The contract would also make use of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and gives even more weight to the multinational as a major technology contractor for the Pentagon.
Microsoft managed in 2019 to snatch a million-dollar Pentagon contract for cloud services from Amazon, which has sued the U.S. government over the decision, which could cost it $10 billion.
Some Microsoft employees have publicly lamented that developments they have worked on, such as “HoloLens,” intended for business and consumer electronics, have been turned into weapons services.
Microsoft this month introduced its augmented reality product Mesh, which allows remote working and interacting with holographic representations of co-workers in real time, as well as working in three-dimensional modeling or visualizing information in an almost science fiction-like style.