Microsoft Delivering the Long-Awaited, Controversial HoloLens to U.S. Army

After several years of development, Microsoft is finally delivering its HoloLens technology to the United States Army — despite some employees’ objections. The 10-year contingent contract between the U.S. military and the Seattle-based tech titan is worth $22 billion, one of the most significant public investments in the defense industry yet. The military plans to incorporate the augmented reality (AR) headset into its operations as a way to improve offensive accuracy and protect soldiers on the battlefield.

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The deal to bring HoloLens-based Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headsets to the Army has been delayed for some time, presumably while the tech was further developed and fine-tuned by Microsoft. However, the union between Microsoft and the military has courted controversy, with some employees arguing that it amounts to computer engineers developing military weapons. Satya Nadella, the company’s CEO, has defended the partnership as one that will protect America’s freedoms.

The IVAS headset combines high-resolution night, thermal, and soldier-borne sensors into a heads-up display, according to Army officials. The initial order is for 5,000 headsets, but if the full contract is fulfilled, it could amount to about 121,000 units.