Augmented reality in live combat is no longer science fiction.
The U.S. Army has been using Microsoft's HoloLens during training missions since at least 2016, providing soldiers with live information and locking onto targets. But now the headsets are headed into combat.
Microsoft just won a sizable $480 million contract with the U.S. government, according to Bloomberg. The two year contract includes an order of more than 100,000 units.
The military is planning to use Microsoft's augmented reality goggles to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy," according to a government description of the program quoted by Bloomberg.
The Army is also planning to enhance the capabilities of the HoloLens by adding night vision, thermal sensing, live vital signs monitoring, and hearing protection.
Microsoft wasn't the only tech company pursuing this lucrative contract. AR goggles startup Magic Leap put in a bid as well.
Big government contracts are as old as Silicon Valley itself. Arguably, GPS never would've been invented without the U.S. military.
But big tech is grappling with its relationship with the military right now, especially with Google's Project Maven AI drone contract with the Pentagon proving highly unpopular among employees. But it's tough to predict whether tech workers will ever have enough sway over their employers to prevent future military contracts.
READ MORE: US Army soldiers will soon wear Microsoft’s HoloLens AR goggles in combat [MIT Technology Review]
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