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How Will HoloLens be Used by the U.S. Military in Combat Scenarios?

Expect viewpoints suggest that incorporating technology like Microsoft mixed reality offerings to benefit soldiers can be a challenging proposition.

U.S. soldiers might start relying on the HoloLens in a not so distant future, to gain an edge in front-line scenarios. Based on a Bloomberg News report, Microsoft has bagged a U.S. Army contract worth US $480 million for system prototypes. It is a move that could culminate in an order of 100,000 headsets by the Army, that can be used in active combat settings.

In recent times, technology like HoloLens was seen in a different light. VR and mixed reality projects in the United States were mostly limited to the private sector’s objective of formulating systems that are useful for industrial as well as entertainment purposes. HoloLens have found use as a service tool for field technicians and training. Other nations are also considering the technology for combat use, like the Ukrainian HoloLens helmet, which facilitates a 360 degree surround view for tank commanders. Still, the development prospects have been limited.

Yet, the U.S. Army purchasing 100,000 headsets would translate to them assigning HoloLens equipment to a considerable amount of soldiers, among the nearly 480 thousands active personnel. David Krum, MxR Lab associated director at the University of Southern California’s ICT (Institute for Creative Technologies) department, shed light on the possible wider usage of the technology. ICT is a research department funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, which researches immersive technologies.

The HoloLens has numerous sensors that can precisely track an individual’s movements. Those sensors can create superior environmental awareness, and even provide vital information regarding equipment or scenarios where additional help becomes necessary. Due to limitations regarding briefing soldiers, VR technology can be used to enhance operational efficiency and strength. – David Krum

Krum further elaborates that adopting a mass-produced commercial equipment for military use is a prospect with many challenges. He believes that in this particular domain, things are easier said than done. The goals of the military end up being different than the intended use cases of the hardware. He expects considerable improvements to be implemented in Microsoft’s technology, making it water resistant, shockproof, dust resistant and scratch proof. He also believes that the device will need to operate in all lighting conditions.

Microsoft has so far developed HoloLens devices that are geared for consumers, and serve purposes related to entertainment and gaming. While such a consumer-oriented piece of technology can be restarted instantly by consumers without any hitches, the same can never be said for real-life military combat scenarios, where the elements of resource management, taking critical decisions and interpreting changing scenarios are quite crucial. Hence, the technology that exists currently needs some fine-tuning to prevent possible deadly consequences.

Krum expresses that the successful integration of HoloLens in military applications will eventually deliver significant contributions to the consumer domain in terms of technology improvements.



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