The U.S. military is developing night vision goggles that are loaded to the brim with augmented reality capabilities.
Some of the AR features are what one might expect from military goggles, like a built-in compass and targeting system, but Military Times tried out a prototype and reported back that the military’s AR goals are far more ambitious — signaling that the military’s ground troops could be in store for a major high-tech upgrade.
The demo was for what the Pentagon is calling the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), which is expected to enhance a soldier’s capabilities in combat by giving them new tailor-fitted ways to communicate and coordinate with each other.
IVAS is built on a custom version of Microsoft’s HoloLens headset. The headset is the end result of a $480 million military contract that Reuters reported — and which caused internal protests within Microsoft.
In addition to helping soldiers navigate a battlefield, IVAS will include a number of features that seem like they were plucked from a video game.
For instance, soldiers will be able to pinpoint specific locations on a map, and then have beacons show them where that point is as they look around their surroundings. They’ll also see glowing outlines of other soldiers so that they know where everyone is at all times, even if they can’t see them directly.
“No other piece of equipment has had this kind of impact since the introduction of night vision,” Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told Army Times. “This takes night vision to the PhD level.”
More on augmented reality: U.S. Soldiers to Wear Microsoft AR Goggles During Combat Missions