For the time being, American soldiers will not be training with HoloLens headsets. The US Army has delayed the deployment of the HoloLens-based Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) by a year, to September 2022, according to Reuters and Windows Central.
According to Janes, the delay was caused by the need to move operational testing from July of this year to May of 2022 in order to “further mature” the mixed reality technology.
The Defense Department’s Inspector General launched an audit earlier this month to determine whether Microsoft’s system met requirements. It’s unclear whether the audit is related to the delay.
This did not imply that the military-oriented HoloLens was in jeopardy. The Army insisted that it was “fully committed” to the nearly $22 billion IVAS contract and that tests had taken place as recently as September.
The branch planned to conduct tests “regularly” until the end of its fiscal 2022, which ends in September of next year.
IVAS is intended to be used as both a combat aid and a training tool. Infantry will be able to see squad positions and other vital data in the field, complete with night vision ideally, they will have the kind of situational awareness that was previously reserved for video games.
In training, the headsets can provide data to instructors to help them improve specific techniques.
The delay will do little to alleviate internal Microsoft criticism of the HoloLens deal. Employees have long objected to Microsoft directly supporting the military and ‘gamifying’ war, especially since they had no say in the matter.
Microsoft, on the other hand, is unlikely to change its tune. The company sees IVAS as a tool to help and protect troops rather than an offensive weapon — and losing the contract would clearly harm both Microsoft’s bottom line and the momentum for HoloLens in general.