In a nutshell: Microsoft’s deal to produce the US Army with 121,500 Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems (IVAS) augmented actuality glasses primarily based on its HoloLens know-how might be a $22 billion waste of taxpayer cash, in keeping with a Department of Defense oversight company.
Back in 2018, Microsoft started prototyping the IVAS glasses and was awarded a $480 million contract by the Army for 100,000 items. In April final yr, Microsoft gained the contract to construct the ultimate model for troopers in a deal value $22 billion over ten years.
The system combines high-resolution evening, thermal, and soldier-borne sensors right into a heads-up show. It additionally leverages augmented actuality and machine studying to allow a life-like combined actuality coaching setting, the army department wrote.
Signs that the challenge might be operating into bother arrived a number of months later when the AR goggles’ rollout was pushed again from fiscal yr 2021 to September 2022, however the Army mentioned it remained totally dedicated to the deal.
Yet it appears the US Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) would not share the Army’s enthusiasm, nothing that many troopers are having points with the units. “Procuring IVAS with out attaining person acceptance may lead to losing as much as $21.88 billion in taxpayer funds to subject a system that troopers could not wish to use or use as supposed,” it wrote in an audit report (through The Reg).
The report states that there was each constructive and detrimental person acceptance to the IVAS from troopers. It by no means went into numerous element, although a lot of the content material has been redacted. “If troopers don’t love IVAS and don’t discover it drastically enhances undertaking the mission, then troopers is not going to use it,” the OIG concludes.
Douglas Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and know-how, responded to the report by saying the $21.8 billion determine was prone to be double what the army would spend on IVAS and represented a contract ceiling on the worst doable pricing construction.
Bush added that it is too early to inform troopers’ emotions towards the AR system, noting that almost all didn’t like night-vision goggles once they had been launched within the Nineteen Seventies, however the units at the moment are used extensively by the army. He additionally mentioned suggestions was subjective and influenced by elements equivalent to fatigue and familiarity with the know-how being examined.
Ultimately, the OIG argues that the Army ought to have ensured troopers wished to make use of the IVAS know-how earlier than spending $22 billion of taxpayer cash on it, which sounds fairly wise.