April 1, 2021 – The United States Army has recently announced that it has awarded Microsoft Corporation a fixed price production agreement to manufacture the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). The award, which is could be worth up to USD$21.88 billion over 10 years, marks the transition of IVAS from rapid prototyping to production and rapid fielding, and will see the two organizations work together on the delivery of over 120,000 devices with next-generation night vision and situational awareness capabilities to the Army’s Close Combat Force (CCF).
The IVAS headset, which is based on Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality (MR) device and is augmented by Microsoft Azure cloud services, is designed to deliver a platform that will keep US Soldiers safer and make them more effective in combat. The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.
The IVAS aggregates multiple technologies into an architecture that allows Soldiers to fight, rehearse, and train using a single platform. The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and Soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display (HUD) to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve “overmatch” (being stronger, better armed, or more skillful) against current and future adversaries. The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment that allows the CCF to rehearse before engaging any adversaries.
Microsoft has worked closely with the US Army since it was first awarded the IVAS contract in November 2018, and together they have worked around a ‘Soldier Centered Design’ to enable rapid prototyping for a product that provides Soldiers with the tools and capabilities necessary to achieve their mission.
The Army noted that by partnering with Microsoft, a non-traditional defense contractor but an industry leader in developing innovative technology, it was able to “redefine the timeline” for rapid development and production of a major defense program.
As part of the contract announcement, the US Army stated: “The partnership between the Army and Microsoft illustrates areas that the Department of Defense (DoD) and industry can work together towards achieving modernization priorities in the interest of national security.”
Commenting on the award, Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman, said “We appreciate the partnership with the US Army, and are thankful for their continued trust in transitioning IVAS from rapid prototyping to rapid fielding. We look forward to building on this successful partnership with the men and women of the US Army Close Combat Force.”
Image credit: Microsoft