Microsoft wins $480 million HoloLens contract from US Army

Ivan Schwartz
November 30, 2018

According to Bloomberg, the US Army and the Israeli military have already been trialling the HoloLens in training. "This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area", Microsoft told Bloomberg in a statement. "This platform will provide increased lethality, mobility and situational awareness". In its public tender the force asked for the following additional features to be implemented by the contract's winning bidder; night vision and thermal sensing ability, soldier vital signs monitoring capabilities, plus hearing protection. The US Army has previously used Microsoft's HoloLens for training purposes. Only about 50,000 HoloLens units have been sold so far worldwide, according to a recent Microsoft video, a fact that underlines the huge size of this contract.

However, the DoD is also tasking the tech giant with developing military-grade software to go along with the highly customized devices.

It is unclear how Microsoft will be able to provide all of that for less than it sells enterprise versions of the HoloLens, but knowing United States government expenditures, the $480 million was probably just a development fee with a future purchasing price yet to be determined.

Making the leap to combat is no small task, obviously. The company has previously faced criticism from its employees for bidding for military contracts, but it responded by saying it believed that those defending the U.S. should have access to the best technology. He reaffirmed that "Microsoft will be engaged" with the USA military.

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Before the contract was finalized, several Microsoft employees wrote an open letter urging the company not to bid on the military's "Project JEDI".

Microsoft and many other Seattle and Silicon Valley companies have been running into opposition from employees to dealing with the US Military over humanitarian concerns. The solution? Move uneasy staff members to other projects, Microsoft president Brad Smith said last month.

"We've appreciated that no military in the world wants to wake up to discover that machines have started a war", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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