After a long controversy, Microsoft’s HoloLens project has finally received the first order from the U.S. military.
Bloomberg reported Thursday that Microsoft would deliver the initial units of its Integrated Visual Augmentation System (or IVAS) goggles to the military after “encouraging results” from field testing. The goggles provide a heads-up display and night vision for soldiers in the field. These are added modifications to Microsoft’s existing HoloLens augmented reality technology.
Microsoft has refused to comment on the order at the moment.
The company first signed a contract with the military to develop combat-modified HoloLens goggles almost four years ago, in late 2018. The deal was worth $480 million, and it eventually led to an internal clash within the company. This was because some employees felt their work was being used to propagate violence abroad instead of helping people. The HoloLens division has also seen quite difficult times, as the creator of the AR goggles, Alex Kipman, left the company in June after sexual harassment allegations surfaced.
Ultimately, pressure from within didn’t obstruct the military deal. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella defended the decision in early 2019, saying it was a “principled decision” made to help “protect the freedoms we enjoy.” According to Bloomberg’s report, the military could spend up to $21.9 billion over the next decade on the IVAS program, factoring in maintenance costs.
Once this moves forward, we shall see if the Microsoft employees protest once more, or if things stay all quiet on the Pacific Northwestern front.