The all-in-one AR display shows a weapon sites view, compass direction, enemy positions, and more.
According to reports by the Army Times, US Army Soldiers and Marines could be wearing ruggedized augmented reality headsets in the field by as early as next year.
Referred to as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, these militarized Microsoft HoloLens headsets feature a variety of tactical overlays designed to increase a soldiers effectiveness in the field. This includes a weapons sights view, compass direction, night and thermal sights, friendly and enemy positions, and other useful heads-up information.
“I can see where my entire platoon is projected on a map, and for me as a platoon leader, that’s amazing, because there’s a lot of guesswork that goes out the window,” said Lt. Nicholas Christopher, a member of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, who tested the IVAS alongside roughly 1,000 other participants. “There’s a lot of verbal communication over radios that I don’t have to do anymore. It’s very solid. I can see how this is going to make a great impact on the way we fight.”
In addition to the above mentioned features, the IVAS can also be used during the mission planning phase, allowing users to upload a 3D terrain map which can be captured and downloaded quickly after a brief recon outing or drone scan. Speaking of drones, test participants in recent outings even used the goggles in tandem with micro-drones, allowing them to perform remote reconnaissance missions which they could view through the headset in real-time.
The US military has conducted over 25 tests alongside the Army Special Forces, Rangers, soldiers with 25th Infantry Division, 10th Mountain Division, and 82nd Airborne Division and Marines; the most recent being a massive 72-hour company-sized training mission at Fort Pickett, Va that included mission planning, navigation, “rapid target acquisition”, as well as much-feared “trench-clearing.”
The US Army is set to purchase roughly 40,000 pairs of these all-in-one AR goggles with plans for field deployment in late 2021. These will be distributed among numerous branches of service, including special forces operatives, engineers, and scouts as well as reserve units.