HoloLens for 120,000 Army personnel: Microsoft inks $21.9 billion deal

A soldier raises a rifle from within a comically oversized headset.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Microsoft | Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the US Army formally moved forward with the largest ever government-related deal for headsets in the virtual and augmented reality sector: a 10-year agreement with Microsoft to provide 120,000 headsets “based” on the HoloLens line.

Reports by CNBC and Bloomberg point to a $21.9 billion value for this week’s updated arrangement, following its initial announcement in November 2018. Neither of those reports point to exact reasons for the deal’s jump from an initial contract value of $480 million, despite that earlier deal confirming similarly high headset numbers.

Official IVAS image as provided by Microsoft as part of Wednesday's announcements. Notice an array of sensors across the top, along with an apparent headset-strapping requirement for this model.

Official IVAS image as provided by Microsoft as part of Wednesday’s announcements. Notice an array of sensors across the top, along with an apparent headset-strapping requirement for this model. (credit: Microsoft)

The headset model in question, as revealed by Microsoft’s Alex Kipman in a Wednesday blog post, appears to deviate slightly from its originally announced intent. While it’s still known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) and includes an array of HoloLens-like sensors, the model seen in today’s announcement appears to attach to a helmet. Ars previously reported that Microsoft and the US Army intended for this headset to not require mounting on a helmet, arguably to increase its applicability.

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