Congress has dealt a major blow to Microsoft’s HoloLens combat goggles, refusing to authorize funds to purchase more of the devices.
Microsoft has been working with the US Army to develop combat goggles that could provide troops with valuable information in battle. The contract was one of the biggest attempts to integrate the tech in a real-world setting.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, Congress has declined the Army’s request for $400 million to buy an additional 6,900 googles, according to Bloomberg. Lawmakers did approve a transfer of $40 million of the requested funds toward developing a new, improved model.
At the heart of the issue — both for the denial of procurement funds and the funding for developing a better version — are evaluation tests that have uncovered major issues with the current generation HoloLens. Tests revealed that the HoloLens were leading to “mission-affecting physical impairments” in 80% of soldiers after less than three hours of use. Given that the goggles are designed to be worn in the heat of battle, possibly for hours on end, the tests raised major concerns.
There’s no doubt that AR will play a significant role on future battlefields, but Congress clearly doesn’t want to invest money in a version of the technology that is more of a liability than asset — at least at this stage of development.
In the broader scheme of things, Microsoft’s challenges with the HoloLens illustrate the bigger issues companies are going to have with AR, VR, and the metaverse. Until people can use the technology in a meaningful way without experiencing negative side effects, the metaverse will remain a pipe dream.