US Army to test improved Microsoft HoloLens 1.2 tech next month

Microsoft has confirmed that they will deliver around 20 prototypes of its improved HoloLens technology for testing with the US Army in August.
Christopher McFadden
US Army to test improved Microsoft HoloLens tech next month.


The United States Army will test Microsoft's HoloLens-based combat goggles again this month, Engadget reports. Microsoft confirmed to them that the US Army would deliver its improved IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) 1.2 devices to the Army before the end of July. The 1.2 variant is an augmented and enhanced version of its previous iteration, which is slimmer, lighter, and more balanced," according to Microsoft.

Slimmer and lighter

The Army plans to test 20 prototype IVAS goggles with two squads in late August. This test will evaluate the low-light functionality, reliability, and comfort of the goggles. The goal is to ensure that soldiers do not experience nausea, headaches, or eye strain while wearing the goggles while benefiting from what they have to offer.

“Soldiers will be able to rehearse and train in more realistic scenarios using augmented reality to prepare themselves for what they are walking into,” says Master Sgt. Marc Krugh is a senior enlisted advisor who’s worked on the project since its inception. “Inevitably, IVAS is going to save lives,” Krugh says. “That’s our main focus – bringing our men and women in arms back home," he added.

Previous testers reported discomfort due to the bulkiness, narrow field of view, and a display glow that could compromise a soldier's position at night. The Army hopes to improve the key features that have previously failed. Ultimately, the IVAS goggles aim to make soldiers more comfortable and improve their performance.

The HoloLens technology has been designed to enhance battlefield awareness for infantry soldiers. With this technology, soldiers can easily track each other's positions, access important health statistics, and utilize less conspicuous night vision. This will enable them to coordinate their attacks better and sound warnings in case of signs of injury or fatigue.

The technology is expected to be deployed in the field within a few years, provided that the next planned test is successful. If the Army awards a contract between July and September 2024 for a second field study, it could lead to an operational combat test as early as April 2025. Once the testing phase is complete, the Army will be able to deploy IVAS in a matter of months.

Army wants 120,000+ units

This test holds significant importance as the Army has the potential to invest up to $21.9 billion in ten years for 121,000 IVAS units. However, Congress halted orders for the earlier goggles in January due to reported issues. In response, Microsoft received $40 million to improve the hardware. Failure to address these concerns could result in the cancellation of the program.

Such an outcome would not only cost Microsoft a valuable contract but also raise doubts about the reliability of HoloLens. The mixed reality division has already experienced setbacks with the departure of lead developer Alex Kipman last year due to misconduct allegations and recent layoffs.

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