US Army mixed reality headset to enter the field in 2021 1

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The $479 million mixed reality headset being developed for US Army soldiers will enter the field next year. More than 20,000 hours of testing have already been completed

Quick read

➨ With more than 20,000 hours of testing complete, the US Army plans to equip 58 brigade combat teams in the field, its entire close combat force, with the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). This will begin in the latter part of 2021
➨ IVAS is based on Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset and is the subject of a $479 million contract
➨ The headset boasts night vision and can show a soldier battlefield information about the location of enemy combatants and their own unit

The story

After conducting more than 20,000 hours of testing, involving nearly 1,000 soldiers, marines and members of special operations forces, the US Army is almost ready for its new mixed reality headset to enter the field.

The Integrated Visual Augmentation System, based on Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset and the subject of a $479 million contract, will enter the field in the latter part of 2021, according to the US Army.

A custom-built device, IVAS consists of a head-mounted display that connects to a small computer and radio.

IVAS boasts night vision and can show a soldier battlefield information about the location of enemy combatants and their own unit.

The headset also highlights targets, uses facial recognition software to identify others, translates various languages into English, and allows soldiers to share digital information, including map coordinates and imagery of what’s happening on the battlefield.

Lieutenant Colonel Brad Winn, who is the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team’s lead action officer for IVAS, said: “Department of Defense leaders wanted a single device soldiers could use to fight, rehearse and train. IVAS is that device. It improves soldier sensing, decision-making, target acquisition, target engagement and situational awareness.”

A particular highlight of IVAS for Winn is the ability to pass data among squad, platoon and company formations. Winn said: “They can talk to each other and share images on and off the objective.”

That could include what a certain building or other objective looks like. Winn said: “The soldiers following behind, or the next one on the objective, will know exactly what that objective looks like, whether it’s the inside of a building, wooded terrain—anywhere.”

US Army soldiers at Fort Pickett wear the new mixed reality headset

“IVAS enhances every aspect of soldier lethality. It improves and increases the soldier’s situational awareness and enhances his or her ability to manoeuvre and outmanoeuvre our adversaries. IVAS will make a smarter, better-informed, more agile and lethal soldier. It will save American lives on the battlefield.”

With more than 20,000 hours of testing complete, the US Army plans to equip 58 brigade combat teams in the field, its entire close combat force, with IVAS. This will begin in the latter part of 2021.

The US Army released a video highlighting its work on IVAS so far, as well as other projects designed to equip its soldiers with cutting edge technology.

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Images: US Army

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