By Andrew Gunder, DCMME Graduate Assistant
The US Army recently awarded a $479 million dollar contract to Microsoft to develop the next generation of cutting edge Army technology. Dubbed the IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) and developed off of the Microsoft Hololens 2 platform this system will reduce the need for multiple systems to be carried in the field by consolidating them into one integrated HUD (Heads-Up Display) for soldiers.
The Army is often hampered with an abundance of equipment and systems, some of which aren’t exactly light in weight. The IVAS effectively eliminates that burden on the soldier with a single solution. The individual soldier can see their squad’s position on a map, a compass, and even their weapon system’s reticle. The addition of thermal imaging in the system would aid visibility in the dark without the telltale glow of existing night vision goggles (NVGs) and headsets. Additionally, with the enhanced awareness of the IVAS user, the Army hopes that the system will minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties on the battlefield.
From a training perspective, the IVAS can be used to provide real-time data to improve soldier performance, such as show the wearer’s field of vision and heart rate. This would allow instructors to effectively coach soldiers in instances such as improving aim or room-clearing techniques.
As an Infantryman, this technology not only has the capability to improve soldier performance, but the sheer magnitude of increasing battlefield awareness in soldiers is where this system is truly groundbreaking. Battlefield environments are constantly evolving and having the edge to adjust to rapidly changing conditions on a mission can be the difference between life and death of the end user.
What are some challenges that exist for the Army to fully adopt the IVAS?
What additional capabilities do you think could be added to the IVAS?
Do you believe Microsoft made the right decision in accepting the contract from the Army? Why or why not?