In a recent media expose, the U.S. Army demonstrated how it plans to use Microsoft’s HoloLens to become more deadly on the battlefield.
HoloLens is Microsoft’s “mixed reality smartglasses” hardware. It is the tech giant’s latest system using augmented reality (AR): the ability to overlay digital markers on top of the real world. The technology was pretty much the kick-off platform for Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality system developed under the Windows 10 operating system. The HoloLens can actually trace its lineage to Kinect, an add-on for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console that was introduced about nine years ago.
Augmented reality tech has taken the world by storm in the past several years. Productions from Pokemon Go to Apple’s QuickLook have shown the range of possibilities AR holds. With new-age technology being rapidly integrated into warfighting platforms, it was only a matter of time before governments found a defense training application for AR.
The Army signed a $480 million contract with Microsoft at the end of last year to produce HoloLens units compatible for the military. Microsoft has worked with defense officials, including the Secretary of the Army, to produce a tailored product especially for troop training. And the smartglasses being used by the Army have some pretty amazing features. The glasses allow a soldier to see a map of his or her immediate perimeter and the exact location of fellow squad members. The upper section of the virtual reality view shows a compass that changes with the soldier’s movements. The Army’s version of Microsoft’s HoloLens also features thermo-visual technology to identify people and equipment in low lighting conditions, probably even through walls.