In surprising news today, tech behemoth Microsoft has announced that it has secured a $662 million contract after it beat out a plethora of other companies, to develop Augmented Reality prototypes for the United States Army.
The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) is aiming to “accelerate lethal defensive and offensive capabilities, utilizing innovative components” according to the government proposal for the plan
Reports at the time of writing show that this contract could lead to the military buying more than 100,000 Augmented Reality headsets from Microsoft, which would put the United States Army as the largest purchaser of Holo-Lens technology in the world (who thought that sentence would ever be written?)
“It expects devices to vary from their consumer-grade counterparts in a handful of key respects. In a document shared with companies bidding on the contract, the Army said it wanted to incorporate night vision and thermal sensing, measure vital signs like breathing and “readiness,” monitor for concussions and offer hearing protection.
It said the winning bidder would be expected to deliver 2,500 headsets within two years, and exhibit the capacity for full-scale production.” – Bloomberg report on the IVAS development
It was also noted in the article that there is ongoing contention within Microsoft, as numerous employees have raised concerns about its bid for the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure) contract, which is a Military cloud-based computing deal, worth up to $14 Billion. The morality issues raised by the staff based on getting involved in human rights issues are ongoing. Although President of Microsoft Brad Smith defended the company’s decision to offer the U.S Army a chance to use its technology, citing patriotism and reaffirming that Microsoft believes “In a strong defense of the United States” through the use of its state of the art technology.
Smith also referred to the company’s ongoing relationship with the Department of Defence (DOD), making the claim that the bid for the new JEDI project was merely an extension of the services it currently offers to the DOD, and that the Military is largely-dependant on their technology.
Losing grip of the PR-side of the situation, President Smith then went on an unexpected tangent that explained that the military should have access to Microsoft’s technology because soldiers Freed slaves during the civil war and fought Nazi’s??
“We readily decided this summer to pursue this project, given our longstanding support for the Defence Department. All of us who live in this country depend on its strong defence. The people who serve in our military work for an institution with a vital role and critical history. Of course, no institution is perfect or has an unblemished track record, and this has been true of the U.S. military.
But one thing is clear. Millions of Americans have served and fought in important and just wars, including helping to free African-Americans who were enslaved until the Civil War and liberate nations that had been subjected to tyranny across Western Europe in World War II.
Today the citizens in our military risk their lives not only as the country’s first line of defence, but often as the nation’s first line of assistance around the world in hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other disasters.” – Brad Smith; Losing the audience
Although the company has every right to operate as it pleases.. Maybe not defending it like this is the way to go..