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Microsoft plans to ship slimmer and lighter HoloLens-based AR headsets to the US Army soon

Two US Army soldiers wearing HoloLens headsets

Microsoft's Mixed Reality division has not had the best 2023 so far. The part of Microsoft that's in charge of, among other things, its HoloLens headsets and technology reportedly got hit with deep layoffs earlier this year. However, it looks like one aspect of that group is about to deliver some new and improved mixed-reality headsets to a big customer: the US Army.

Engadget reports that later this month, Microsoft will be shipping a package of new IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) devices to the US Army. These HoloLens-based headsets are, according to Microsoft, "slimmer, lighter and more balanced" compared to previous models of the IVAS. In theory, that should make them more comfortable to wear and use by soldiers.

Another report from Bloomberg states the Army will test 20 of these new headsets in August to see if they really are improved models. In addition to testing the hardware itself, the Army wants to see if they don't make the soldiers who wear them physically ill.

Microsoft started shipping the first versions of these headsets to the US Army in 2021. That happened just a few months after it signed a massive 10-year contract to deliver these kinds of headsets to the military for a huge $21.9 billion deal. However, the US Congress denied a request to buy thousands of additional IVAS units earlier this year, due to the poor response to the original headsets.

Obviously, Microsoft has its fingers crossed that the improved IVAS devices will be met with a better response from US Army soldiers. Engadget says if this first test is successful, a second test would be commissioned in 2024. If that also works out, the Army plans to put the IVAS headsets in an operational battle test in the first half of 2025 before pulling the trigger to offer them on a wider basis.

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