January 9, 2023 – The US Army has recently announced that it has awarded a task order to Microsoft Corporation to develop version 1.2 of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), a multi-billion dollar Army project based on the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality (MR) device that is designed to deliver enhanced situational awareness to Soldiers, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.
The task order, which was awarded to Microsoft on December 20, 2022, is the latest step in the process that began in March 2021, when the Army awarded Microsoft a production agreement worth nearly USD $22 billion to manufacture IVAS. Under that agreement, the Army envisioned improving the system through an iterative process. This latest task order will provide improvements based on completed test events, according to the Army.
The IVAS is being designed to provide Soldiers with a single device to fight, rehearse and train by integrating next-generation situational awareness tools, many of which are powered by the HoloLens’ advanced mixed reality capabilities. The Army stated that to date, it has conducted over 30 Soldier test events and more than 100 technical sub-tests, with more than 1,000 Soldiers contributing nearly 100,000 hours of IVAS user feedback.
According to the Army, these tests “validated the system’s continued progress,” but also identified several areas for focused improvements. An Insider report from October last year highlighted that Soliders were reportedly unhappy with the IVAS units they were testing, with some users stating “The devices would have gotten us killed.” The report also noted that Microsoft’s IVAS devices failed four of six elements during a recent test.
With seemingly much to improve on, IVAS will begin incremental fielding in September 2023. IVAS 1.0 provides baseline warfighter capability, and the IVAS 1.1 features an improved low-light sensor to aid maneuver and positive target identification.
The Army stated that improvements expected for IVAS 1.2 will include:
- a new form factor to address Human Systems Integration, including physiological impacts identified during testing;
- a lower profile heads-up display with distributed counterweight for improved user interface and comfort;
- software improvements for increased reliability and reduced power demand.
Delivery orders for IVAS 1.2 production systems will be placed after qualification and operational testing, according to the Army.
The Army added that it will continue to work with Microsoft as its IVAS industry partner to execute the IVAS program in a “rapid and innovative manner.” Development for IVAS is based on an iterative and Soldier feedback oriented approach, which the Army is anticipating will result in fielding substantial capability several years ahead of its traditional acquisition program timelines.
The Army concluded its announcement by stating that it is “fully committed to IVAS and the leap-ahead capability it will provide for Soldiers to prevail on the battlefield.”
For more information on Microsoft and its HoloLens mixed reality technology, please visit the company’s website.
Image credit: US Army / Courtney Bacon
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Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.