Tech

US Department of Defense agency warns that $22 billion deal between the military and Microsoft HoloLens could be a waste of taxpayer money

In a nutshell: Microsoft’s deal to supply the US Army with 121,500 Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems (IVAS) augmented reality glasses based on its HoloLens technology could be a $22 billion waste of taxpayer money, according to the Department of Defense oversight agency.

Back in 2018, Microsoft began prototyping IVAS goggles and received a $480 million contract from the Army for 100,000 units. Last April, Microsoft won a contract to build the ultimate soldier version in a deal worth $22 billion over ten years.

The system combines high-resolution night, thermal and soldier sensors in the form of a projection display. It also uses augmented reality and machine learning to create a realistic mixed reality learning environment, writes the military department.

Signs that the project could run into trouble came a few months later when the release of the AR glasses was pushed back from fiscal 2021 to September 2022, but the Army said it remained fully committed to the deal.

However, the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) doesn’t seem to share the Army’s enthusiasm, and nothing that many soldiers are having problems with the devices. “The acquisition of IVAS without user approval could result in wasting up to $21.88 billion in taxpayer funds to deploy a system that soldiers may not want to use or use for their intended purpose,” the report says. report (through Reg).

The report states that the soldiers received IVAS both positively and negatively. He never went into details, though much of the content has been edited. “If soldiers don’t like IVAS and don’t think it improves mission performance significantly, soldiers won’t use it,” OIG concludes.

Douglas Bush, U.S. Army Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, responded to the report saying the $21.8 billion figure is likely to be double what the military will spend on IVAS and represents a contract ceiling under the worst possible structure. pricing.

Bush added that it was too early to talk about soldiers’ attitudes towards the AR system, noting that most people didn’t like night vision goggles when they were introduced in the 1970s, but these devices are now widely used by the military. He also said that feedback was subjective and influenced by factors such as fatigue and familiarity with the technology being tested.

Ultimately, OIG argues that the Army should have made sure soldiers were willing to use IVAS technology before spending $22 billion of taxpayer money on it, which sounds pretty reasonable.


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