TECH NEWS – The worth of the contract is incredible, and the Redmond-based company is now even closer to the US Army than ever before.
They won a 21.9 billion dollar contract for ten years to provide the Army with an IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System), based on their HoloLens AR-headset. According to the contract, Microsoft‘s IVAS project’s goal is to develop and test a single platform that soldiers can use to fight, rehearse, and train,” and for it, Microsoft will supply the army more than 120 thousand devices over the next decade. MS’ blog post claims that IVAS „delivers a platform that will keep soldiers safer and make them more effective,” using the HoloLens technology, as well as the Azure cloud platform.
According to the Army, IVAS „leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries.” They also want to use it „to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment.”
This 22-billion agreement is much bigger than the one they got in 2019 (479 million dollars) for the IVAS prototype. A few employees have protested that agreement in an open letter, asking Microsoft to cease developing weapon technology and to have an external ethics review board. But in 2018, Microsoft already defended itself in a blog post, written by company president Brad Smith, saying that their work supports „strong defence of the United States,” and Microsoft wants „the people who defend it to have access to the nation’s best technology, including from Microsoft.”
In a tweet published on March 31, Smith pointed out their long history with the military: „We are longtime supporters of the Department of Defense and US Army’s effort to modernize the U.S. Military through advanced technology.” To it, the Microsoft Workers 4 Good group, which was the protesting team in 2019, responded saying that they’d rather Microsoft „used today to stand up for Transgender people everywhere on Transgender Day of Visibility, instead of building weapons of war.”
The joke here is that Microsoft also won a 10-billion cloud contract with the Pentagon to overhaul its IT infrastructure. However, Amazon has taken them to court over it.