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US Army soldiers will soon wear Microsoft’s HoloLens AR goggles in combat

November 29, 2018

Microsoft has won a $480 million deal to supply more than 100,000 augmented-reality HoloLens headsets to the US Army, Bloomberg reports.

Uses? The Army plans to use the headsets for combat missions as well as training. The technology will be adapted to incorporate night vision and thermal sensing, offer hearing protection, monitor for concussion, and measure vital signs like breathing and “readiness.” AR firm MagicLeap also bid for the contract, according to Bloomberg.

A first: HoloLens is used for training by the US and Israeli military already, but this would be the first time it’s been used for live combat. It’s another example of how AR is being adopted far more enthusiastically by organizations than consumers.

Tensions: The deal is more good news for Microsoft, which overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company yesterday. However, there could be pushback against this contract—and it’s as likely to come from Microsoft employees themselves as from external groups. The relationship between the technology sector and the US military has become fraught over the past year, with employees at Amazon, Google, and Microsoft protesting their companies’ bids for government contracts. The solution? Move uneasy staff members to other projects, Microsoft president Brad Smith said last month.  

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