The United States Army and Microsoft are set to roll out an updated version of its Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headset in 2025, reports show.
Windows Central reported that version 1.2 of the HoloLens-based headset would feature a lighter, streamlined form factor. The head-mounted display (HMD) will also host a separate controller aimed at boosting computing power.
The separate components will reduce head strain for soldiers using the device to balance out front-end weight from previous iterations. This has reduced the weight from 3.4 pounds to 2.85 pounds—the same as the US Army’s Enhanced Night Vision Goggle Binoculars.
It will also feature colour-coded navigational capabilities. The IVAS system will face additional tests prior to its release following a series of ongoing trials in real-world situations.
The Army recently bought 5,000 v1.0 devices and a further 5,000 v1.1 headsets to arrive in 2024. v1.2 will also host two rounds of development along with soldiers offering extensive feedback for optimisation.
The Army received the first batch of its IVAS 1.0 headsets in October last year. Its Training and Doctrine Command, Maneuver Center of Excellence, and other departments have been testing the v1.0 kit.
IVAS Headset Plans
Numerous military personnel, such as fighter pilots and infantry soldiers, will test the devices across situations before receiving additional phases. Military staff will test the device’s edge computing, tactical heads-up displays (HUDs), thermal and night vision, passive targeting, and other features for combat readiness.
Army officials declared the device “not combat ready” due to ongoing issues with its features, moisture buildup, and ergonomics.
To reduce nausea and vertigo due to latency and alignment issues, the US Army has tasked a team of experts working with Microsoft Visual Sciences to resolve the concern.
According to reports, officials will conduct field testing by late 2025 fiscal year.
Senate Appropriations Committee Troubles
The news comes after the $22 billion USD deal faced significant headwinds from 2021 to last year, leading to huge cuts in US government funding following a Senate meeting.
Bloomberg reported that the US Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee cut around $350 million USD from the Army’s $400 million procurement request in August.
The Subcommittee added that it remained “concerned” the IVAS headsets faced “software, hardware and user-acceptance challenges.” It claims the Army had not “sufficiently addressed” the issues.
Subcommittee members approved the US Army’s move to extend testing for ten months to “engage with non-traditional defense contractors” to meet “warfighter requirements.”
Further headaches arrived after Microsoft slashed the number of staff working on the project, namely after it faced huge cuts across its mixed reality departments.
A second Bloomberg report found that Microsoft aimed to eliminate 10,000 jobs and numerous hardware projects by late March. Anonymous sources in the report confirmed Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella’s move to launch changes to the company’s hardware portfolio, including the IVAS headset.