Microsoft Wins $480 Million Contract to Supply Hololens to U.S. Army

cageymaru

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Microsoft has beaten out all competitors to win a $480 million contract to supply over 100,000 HoloLens HMDs to the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army wanted to correct issues with close combat readiness with an Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). The program's objective is to to rapidly develop, test, and manufacture a single platform that Soldiers can use to Fight, Rehearse, and Train. This platform will provide increased Lethality, Mobility and Situational Awareness.

The U.S. Army says near peer threats have capabilities that meet and sometimes exceed the capabilities of American soldiers. Potential adversaries in near peer militaries are developing similar technologies that can be used to detect, target, and lethally engage before US forces become aware of their presence. "IVAS will provide an unparalleled advantage on the battlefield and the ability to incorporate the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) improving Soldier ability to conduct training and high fidelity on-the-ground rehearsals."

Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area," a Microsoft spokesman said in an emailed statement. The Government estimates the total cost of the program, including follow-on production, to be greater than $500,000,000.00.
 

DF-1

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shouldnt a bulk order be cheaper, not extremely more expensive? thats $4800/each. hololense is being sold for $2000.
 

WhoMe

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I imagine these will be special milspec versions that work in extreme cold and heat and maybe more vibration resistant than consumer grade (I hope)
 

NoOther

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shouldnt a bulk order be cheaper, not extremely more expensive? thats $4800/each. hololense is being sold for $2000.

Govt always over pays. That aside I am sure MS is building a custom version for them.

Actually government severely underpays for MS products. They get massive deals on them. The money isn't just for a plain HoloLens, it is for an integrated system of the HoloLens into Helmets with full functioning software and all the support that goes with that. If you RTFA it explains it all. ;)

With the contract, the Army immediately becomes one of Microsoft’s most important HoloLens consumers. It expects devices to vary from their consumer-grade counterparts in a handful of key respects. In a document shared with companies bidding on the contract, the Army said it wanted to incorporate night vision and thermal sensing, measure vital signs like breathing and “readiness,” monitor for concussions and offer hearing protection. It said the winning bidder would be expected to deliver 2,500 headsets within two years, and exhibit the capacity for full-scale production.

EDIT: Also, after doing about 2 minutes worth of research, the commercial version of just the HoloLens itself is $5000 a pop.
 
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Jagger100

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shouldnt a bulk order be cheaper, not extremely more expensive? thats $4800/each. hololense is being sold for $2000.
I assume these ones have a wider field of view. The final ones were reported to be disappointingly small.
 

vegeta535

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shouldnt a bulk order be cheaper, not extremely more expensive? thats $4800/each. hololense is being sold for $2000.
As some one that deals with defence contracts. Yes we do over charge the government. When dealing with military contracts we have to meet their standards. Like not being able to source parts or have parts made in Communist countries. Like China where almost all manufacturing is. It doesn't have to be made in America but their is a strick approved list of country we are able to source parts from. Also stuff like we need to purchases a certain percentage from minority companies. Which in turn also over charge us cause of that.
 

NoOther

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As some one that deals with defence contracts. Yes we do over charge the government. When dealing with military contracts we have to meet their standards. Like not being able to source parts or have parts made in Communist countries. Like China where almost all manufacturing is. It doesn't have to be made in America but their is a strick approved list of country we are able to source parts from. Also stuff like we need to purchases a certain percentage from minority companies. Which in turn also over charge us cause of that.

You aren't actually "over"charging, you are "charging" for the service with the conditions attached. Overcharge would mean you are charging more for the exact same service you are providing the average customer.
 

Galvin

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10 years ago this was science fiction. I think this is a good thing, soldiers will be able to see if someone is a threat right away imo
 

NoOther

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10 years ago this was science fiction. I think this is a good thing, soldiers will be able to see if someone is a threat right away imo

That could be one use, but I don't think that is the purpose. This is likely to tag along systems already in use which allow various views using different technologies so they are better able to see targets (which is why they include lowlight, nightvision, etc.) Traditionally they has required them to look through a special lens or telescopic type device, so they don't always have both eyes focused infront. Having it done using Augmented views will allow them to be able to keep their eyes focused forward and be more aware of their surroundings, while still getting the specific views they need.

In addition this is likely to pair with Battlefield readiness systems which depict heart rates, stress levels, etc. These systems are designed to give leaders better awareness of the condition of their forces.
 

NoOther

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Real question: how will this help identify a threat?

So to answer that question, currently they are using mobile devices that they can take pictures of suspects and get near real-time data on whether those match potential targets. Having an overlay will make this a little bit easier, as it automatically has a camera and can update potential targets on the overlay itself. Of course the problem will still be connectivity to threat data.
 

vegeta535

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You aren't actually "over"charging, you are "charging" for the service with the conditions attached. Overcharge would mean you are charging more for the exact same service you are providing the average customer.
Yes that is correct.
 

DPI

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Love all these fantasy scenarios about these pieces of junk with a mailslot sized FOV actually being used in combat or even for training.

Don't you guys understand how defense contracts work? If they ever actually get built then they'll just collect dust in an empty warehouse somewhere.
 

NoOther

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Love all these fantasy scenarios about these pieces of junk with a mailslot sized FOV actually being used in combat or even for training.

Don't you guys understand how defense contracts work? If they ever actually get built then they'll just collect dust in an empty warehouse somewhere.

It begs the question whether you understand how defense contracts work? If Microsoft can't deliver based on the requirements and performance requested, much of that contract will become void. Also, typically a few prototypes are created first, its not like they experiment on thousands of devices immediately.
 

Jim Kim

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It's gonna be better than V.A.T.S., Fallouts Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System.
 

modi123

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FFS - and I have been scrounging fleabay to get a used one that isn't list price of 3k. Maybe there will be a flood of 'em in a few months.
 

Lakados

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FFS - and I have been scrounging fleabay to get a used one that isn't list price of 3k. Maybe there will be a flood of 'em in a few months.
Not likely, MS is working on a lot of partnerships and the units are selling, with a military contract in place they will have have their hands full. Maybe the money will allow them to put more R&D into it and a $2000 unit may be available in a year or so.
 

Shotglass01

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And yet they can't rollout a proper Windows 10 update twice a year.

"Negative Overlord, can't fire."
"What's your problem soldier!?"
"Glasses be updating. Heard this update includes the touch the enemy tickles spot feature."
 

Pieter3dnow

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It begs the question whether you understand how defense contracts work? If Microsoft can't deliver based on the requirements and performance requested, much of that contract will become void. Also, typically a few prototypes are created first, its not like they experiment on thousands of devices immediately.
When those prototypes are used then you get a good idea on how combat ready the hardware is and that means that it is far from something used in the real world or even in combat. The idea that it will gather dust is not that far fetched since when did MS make products that were heavy duty and sturdy ready for all kinds of different climates on this planet.

I don't believe in miracles ;)
 

NoOther

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When those prototypes are used then you get a good idea on how combat ready the hardware is and that means that it is far from something used in the real world or even in combat. The idea that it will gather dust is not that far fetched since when did MS make products that were heavy duty and sturdy ready for all kinds of different climates on this planet.

I don't believe in miracles ;)

The idea that 480million worth of equipment would gather dust is what I commented on.
 

Lakados

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When those prototypes are used then you get a good idea on how combat ready the hardware is and that means that it is far from something used in the real world or even in combat. The idea that it will gather dust is not that far fetched since when did MS make products that were heavy duty and sturdy ready for all kinds of different climates on this planet.

I don't believe in miracles ;)
China and Russa have already deployed their versions of it and it works pretty well from their reports so unless the US military can't do it as well as them then I don't see any reason why they would just collect dust.
 

seanreisk

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When those prototypes are used then you get a good idea on how combat ready the hardware is and that means that it is far from something used in the real world or even in combat.

This is the key point - these are not the units soldiers will use in battle, these are the units that soldiers will use to test the entire system. If the Army can finalize a system that works, they'll keep the software and send the manufacturing of the soldier's equipment out for bid. Since Microsoft does most of its manufacturing overseas I have 100% doubt they will be part of that process. I'd expect it to go to a company like BAE, and the final product will be closer to $10,000 a unit, possibly as high as $20,000.
 

Lakados

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This is the key point - these are not the units soldiers will use in battle, these are the units that soldiers will use to test the entire system. If the Army can finalize a system that works, they'll keep the software and send the manufacturing of the soldier's equipment out for bid. Since Microsoft does most of its manufacturing overseas I have 100% doubt they will be part of that process. I'd expect it to go to a company like BAE, and the final product will be closer to $10,000 a unit, possibly as high as $20,000.
They could likely make minor changes to the casing and some of the internals to improve battery life and longevity and they would be good to go. China and Russia are using similar units for controlling UAV's and reporting the data back to soldiers on the field as well as paired up with other units for better range finding with artillery and some other cool stuff (mostly paired with miniature UAV's)
 

Pieter3dnow

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This is the key point - these are not the units soldiers will use in battle, these are the units that soldiers will use to test the entire system. If the Army can finalize a system that works, they'll keep the software and send the manufacturing of the soldier's equipment out for bid. Since Microsoft does most of its manufacturing overseas I have 100% doubt they will be part of that process. I'd expect it to go to a company like BAE, and the final product will be closer to $10,000 a unit, possibly as high as $20,000.

Training tools maybe MS can manage non vital systems ;)
 

Lakados

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Maybe, but considering there are a significant number of vital systems that run on windows currently... I would say they are already managing.
MS is now neck and neck with Apple for bragging rights to the worlds most valuable company so yeah they are managing the shit out of their just fine.
 

Pieter3dnow

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Maybe, but considering there are a significant number of vital systems that run on windows currently... I would say they are already managing.
Yeah I have seen how well that went after MS blaster did the rounds :) Suddenly all of their servers were moved behind a Linux box ;)
 

Lakados

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Yeah I have seen how well that went after MS blaster did the rounds :) Suddenly all of their servers were moved behind a Linux box ;)
I think you meant to say "moved behind a Linksys box" but yeah they probably installed DDWRT on it so you are technically correct, which is the best kind of correct.
 

NoOther

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Yeah I have seen how well that went after MS blaster did the rounds :) Suddenly all of their servers were moved behind a Linux box ;)

Most vital systems already sit behind protected boundaries, so not sure what that has to do with anything. Second, doesn't change the face that the vital systems are still running windows. So... :rolleyes:
 

Pieter3dnow

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Most vital systems already sit behind protected boundaries, so not sure what that has to do with anything. Second, doesn't change the face that the vital systems are still running windows. So... :rolleyes:
Because all of the servers were running Windows OS.
 

seanreisk

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They could likely make minor changes to the casing and some of the internals to improve battery life and longevity and they would be good to go.

I understand your thinking, but it's really a bigger problem.

Firstly, the headsets are made in China, and the Army will not be allowed to use a piece of electronics that was made in China, it's one of the reasons soldiers were limited in the type of cell phones they could bring to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But there's a bunch of other reasons. Suitability to purpose (how easy is it to wear with other Army gear, like the helmet? What happens when the soldier falls face first onto the headset? What happens in an explosion, or a vehicle rollover? Can it replace current 'ski goggles' used on vehicle patrol?), durability in inclement environments (submersion in water, extreme dust storms, sweat, and a soldier's dirty hands), light discipline (make sure it doesn't give away the soldier's position at night), fogging, electronic jamming (Russia already has a man-portable Blue Tooth jammer), battery security, modular components for repairability, sizing, how is it worn (or stored) with a gas mask, etc. Then comes things like electronic noise control, encryption, anti-spoofing (what happens when an enemy finds a set on a dead soldier?) All buttons and switches have to be shock proof (they can't change position with a hard knock), usable through gloved fingers, and have a stable reliability prediction (or mean-time-between-failure). And you see those tiny wires they use to connect the internals? Those hair-thin wires, like the kind you find in gamer headsets, the ones used to connect the speakers, the microphone and the controls? Those all have to go, they have to be replaced by milspec ribbon cable capable of surviving the weight of the device at 5gs. Finally, they're probably going to want some future-proofing, like extra ports so they can connect to new devices, controllers and cameras.

It's complicated. If there was a conflict tomorrow the Army would probably be well served to do what you're suggesting and rush a civilian component out, but otherwise ... I'd be surprised if soldiers see these before 2028.
 
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ManofGod

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Utterly amazing how some of you "think" you know how the military operates, just because you have experienced a bunch of Windows Boxes in the civilian world. Odds are, most of you have not even put on the uniform let along served. Let those who know what they are doing do it and it will be fine. For instance, running an Enterprise level of Windows 10 at a set feature set is 100% stable and solid. Your home and SMB experience does not show what is really going on.
 
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