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New US Army Mixed Reality Headset to Equip Soldiers with Superhero-like Capabilities  

The U.S. Army is set to make its soldiers gain superhero powers with mixed reality (MR) technology. It has entered an association with Microsoft for the development of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) technology. It will enable soldiers to have access to a heads up display (HUD) in combat scenarios.

The IVAS system is a customised edition of the HoloLens 2 device by Microsoft. It is capable of producing a comprehensive battlefield view to soldiers. The view offered by this system is similar to those seen in games such as Call of Duty, or that of Iron Man’s built-in display.

Soldiers wearing the IVAS system, a modified version of the HoloLens 2. US Army

Microsoft received the contract in 2018 by surpassing its competitors with their development concept. The company’s second generation system is presently being tested out. A recent Business Insider report revealed that one of its reporters was able to put on the mixed reality system to partake in one of the training experiences with soldiers.

Mixed reality is generally considered as an upgrade over augmented reality, as it introduces trackable and interactive digital objects within the environment of users.

Using MR to relay information on the battlefield can buy soldiers some time, and save their lives during a real-world mission. The heads-up display can be used for the display of a three-dimensional map, consisting of waypoints, 3D drawings and mission objective renders of subjects such as buildings and foreign language document translations.

The IVAS system is equipped with low-light vision and night vision technologies built into the wearable heads-up display. It allows wearers to shift through different lighting stages and additional elements like smoke, without taking off their goggles. This kind of flexibility was not available in systems of the past.

An example performance report of what soldiers will see through HoloLens after a training exercise. U.S. Army

Development for the third-gen version of the system has been completed and testing will start soon. Soldiers in the military may be able to utilise the system by 2022. U.S. soldiers can expect to gain advantage over their adversaries, including China and Russia by using the system’s features. Those countries have not yet managed to develop systems that measure up to the US Army’s.

The MR system being developed offers more than a wearable heads-up display. It is also capable of connecting to several other wearable computer systems and weapon sights. Battery life of the device ranges between 6 to 8 hours. Soldiers can use the HUD goggles as sensors for visual tracking of targets, enabling them to load up weapons sights and enhance their target skills.

The system is yet to reach a point of user readiness. But, it is quite close to helping soldiers become advanced like their gaming counterparts in the Call of Duty series. How the system will impact soldiers in real-world combat scenarios remains to be seen.

News of further development is expected in the near future, but the system already offers a set of powerful features. This type of mixed reality-based devices can dictate the future of warfare, and create definite advantages for the sides using them.


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