Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets are giving US Army testers nausea

Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets for the US Army have some teething problems. Bloomberg and insider Let’s say a recent unclassified report shows that the current IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) iteration is giving soldiers trouble in testing. Some testers experienced nausea, headaches and eyestrain while using the augmented reality glasses. Others were concerned about the size, a limited field of view, and a display glow that could indicate a soldier’s position even at long ranges.

A Microsoft employee in conversation with insider claimed IVAS failed four out of six items in a test. Nickolas Guertin, Department of Defense director of operational testing and evaluation, also said there were still too many bugs in essential functions. According to the report, the acceptance of the soldiers is still low.

The tests are part of a “Soldier Touch Point” program designed to help the Army collect real-world feedback and help Microsoft refine the customized HoloLens gear. Ideally, infantry headsets provide critical battlefield intelligence and night vision.

The military appears to be aware of the issues and addressing them. In a statement to insider, Brigadier General Christopher Schneider said that IVAS was successful in “most” of the criteria, but that there were areas where it was “lacking” and would see improvement. Army Assistant Procurement Secretary Doug Bush approved acceptance of an initial batch of 5,000 HoloLens units in August, but the Armed Forces Branch changed plans to “fix deficiencies.” Microsoft said Bloomberg it still viewed IVAS as a “transformation platform” and pushed forward the delivery of the first headsets.

The results do not necessarily mean that the existing IVAS design is deeply flawed. However, they are contributing to a number of difficulties stemming from the 10-year, $21.9 billion contract to deliver 120,000 devices. The project caused an uproar at Microsoft, where employees objected to working on “weapons.” The Army also delayed its launch late last year to allow for more development time. It may still be a while before the technology is battle-ready.

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Russell Falcon

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