Army plans AR headset rollout
- By Lauren C. Williams
- Feb 19, 2020
With its increased focus on modernization, the Army wants to procure 40,219 sets of mixed-reality glasses. The Integrated Visual Augmentation System looks like a pair of heavy-duty goggles, but the lightweight platform can run augmented reality training, assess soldiers’ biometrics and performance and connect to a warfighter’s weapon sensor. IVAS is also capable of facial recognition and language translation and features thermal and low-light sensors that make it possible to see in the dark.
Those units are expected to go to 100,000 close combat forces who will use IVAS during normal training events, Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, the Army's budget director, told reporters.
The Army has been testing and developing the system since 2018, and no units are slated to be purchased in fiscal 2020. The final version of the heads-up display, based on the Microsoft HoloLens 2, will likely be fielded by the end of fiscal 2021.
Such tech investment is largely dependent on other transaction agreements, a mechanism that allows The Defense Department to quickly buy technology. IVAS is an OTA product and a process that Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said ultimately saves money.
"Contractually it is a little more latitude to work with a contractor to study through prototyping the types of characteristics you want because they may have a better way of getting to the outcome than we want so we were doing this with the IVAS program, we are doing this on our next generation squad weapon," McCarthy said during a Feb. 15 event at the National Press Club.
"So we tried doing it the old way, and … we missed pretty big, but we learned a lot. We spent $23 million instead of spending $2.3 billion like we would have done a decade ago."
A longer version of this article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.
Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.
Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.
Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.
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