Although Microsoft scored some multi-billion dollar contracts with the U.S. Army a couple of years ago to deliver an Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) based on its HoloLens technology, we have found over time that the project hasn't gone smoothly. Now, it faces another hurdle as the U.S. Congress has blocked the Army from purchasing more HoloLens hardware.
As noted by Bloomberg, Congress has denied the request to purchase 6,900 additional headsets for $400 million in a bill due to some pretty poor on-field results. Basically, on-field testing of the headset had resulted in "mission-affecting physical impairments" for the 72 soldiers who wore them for three 72-hour periods across different combat scenarios. The after-effects included eye strain, headaches, and nausea. For 80% of infantry soldiers who experienced this discomfort, the symptoms appeared less than three hours after using the headset.
Although Congress has denied the $400 million funding request, it has still approved a $40 million budget for a new model of IVAS that resolves the aforementioned issues. The new variant is expected to be more comfortable physically and sport a better software with lower power draw too.
Microsoft's HoloLens ride with the U.S. Army has been a bumpy one before this too. Last year, a leaked Microsoft memo indicated that the company had heard very negative feedback from the U.S. Army, even when it came to functionality. This was also followed by Microsoft HoloLens chief Alex Kipman resigning due to allegations of workplace misconduct.