Image: Altaf Qadri (AP) Microsoft has secured a $ 479 million contract with the USAS Army for Prototypes for Integrated…
Image: Altaf Qadri (AP)
Microsoft has secured a $ 479 million contract with the USAS Army for Prototypes for Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems (IVAS), Bloomberg reported Wednesday, expanding its relationship with the military and knocking out a multitude of other companies competing for the contract.
According to the government’s proposal, the program is intended to “accelerate mortal defensive and offensive opportunities using innovative components.” Bloomberg reported that the contract could lead to the military buying more than 100,000 Microsoft’s enhanced reality headsets, positioning the military as a massive consumer of its HoloLens technology. Specifications provided by the military display show that the devices are intended for use in active combat roles:
It expects devices to vary from their consumer-quality counterparts in a handful of important respects. In a document that was shared with companies that bid on the contract, the Army said that it would include night vision and heat sensation, measure vital signs like breathing and “readiness”, monitor brain injury and offer ear protection. It is said that the winning bidder would be expected to deliver 2,500 headsets within two years and display capacity for full-scale production.
“Enhanced reality technology will provide troops more and better information for making decisions,” said a Microsoft spokesman Gizmodo in a statement by email. “This new work extends our long-standing, trusted relationship with the defense ministry to this new area.”
The contract is a remarkable loss for competitors such as Magic Leap, as Bloomberg said among more than two dozen companies that met the Army (if Magic Leap was ever a real challenger might be doubtful).
As Bloomberg noted, a tender application will appear in the ongoing dispute between Microsoft and its employees, who have raised concerns about the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, a military cloud computing business potentially valued at $ 10 billion. Microsoft workers have also raised concerns about other agreements with authorities that criticize human rights, including immigration and customs control.
“Many Microsoft employees do not think that what we are building is going to be used for war,” Microsoft employees wrote in an open letter last month. “When we decided to work with Microsoft, we did so in the hope of” empowering every person on the planet to achieve more “, not for the purpose of ending life and increasing mortality.”
Company president Brad Smith later defended the company’s decision to offer its military use technique, essentially referring to patriotism, claiming that the company believes “in the United States strong defense” through state-of-the-art technology as its own.
Smith also pointed to his ongoing relationship with the Department of Defense, claiming that the JEDI project was simply an extension of its services to a military that is already largely dependent on its technology. He included a curious key that appeared to argue that the military would have access to Microsoft’s technology because soldiers liberated slaves during the civil war and fought the Nazis:
We easily decided this summer to continue this project in view of our long-term support for the defense Department . All of us who live in the country depend on their strong defense. The people who serve in our military work for an institution with an important role and critical story. Of course, no institution is perfect or has an indefinite track record, and this has been true for the US military. But one thing is clear. Millions of Americans have served and fought in important and only war, including helping to liberate African Americans who were enslaved until the Civil War and freeing nations subjected to tyranny over Western Europe during World War II. Today, the citizens of our military risk their lives not only as the country’s first defensive chance, but often as the nation’s first line of aid around the world in hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other disasters.
Not sure if there is any perfect way to defend the company’s dubious business relations with the military industry, but it’s definitely not this.