Soldiers who were wearing an Army-specific model of Microsoft’s “mixed reality” goggles were afflicted with “mission-affecting physical disabilities,” a report from the testing office of the Defense Department discovered.
The report, acquired from Bloomberg News, said soldiers were complaining of headaches nausea, eye strain and headaches and 80% of those experiencing discomfort reporting that the symptoms began within just three minutes wearing goggles.
Nickolas Guertin, director of DoD’s Operation Test and Evaluation, reported in the report uncovered by Bloomberg that the issues need to be taken care of, but he did not consider the device to be as a failure. The Army must “prioritize enhancements” prior to expanding fielding in order to lessen the “physical discomfort for users,” Guertin said, according to Bloomberg.
It was not made public. was never released to the public, was classified by the CIA as “Controlled Classified Unclassified Information.”
The test described in the report was carried out between May and June however, soldiers are testing on the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, also known as IVAS for the past couple of years. In the year 2020 Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston reviewed the system as soldiers tested the goggles during drills, for example, cleaning rooms.
The reason that goggles are so popular, Army leaders shared at the time, was that they allow low-level leaders the ability to quickly guide new soldiers through various combat drills, thereby building small-scale unit capabilities.
The glasses are intended to serve as the “heads-up show” for troops on the ground similar to the ones used in fighter pilots.
Guertin stated in the report’s conclusion that improvements are required for the goggles’ low-light sensors and display clarity, as well as the field of view and other vital features, according to Bloomberg. Guertin added that the most recent model of goggles — which is a customized version of Microsoft’s HoloLens allows for “enhanced navigation and coordinated unit movement.”
The Army has suggested spending up to $420 million to fund the program in fiscal year 2014 and has estimated that it will spend as much as $22 billion on the goggles in the coming decade, with the cost referring to replacement parts as well as support, Bloomberg reported.
However, while Army budgets and estimations look at the goggles in a positive light the report suggests that the soldiers aren’t as enthralled with these spectacles as their planners.
The extent to where soldiers accept the goggles “remains very low,” the report showed that both soldiers and their leaders do not believe that they “contribute to their capability to fulfill their task.”
Although Microsoft did not receive an official copy of the results from the Pentagon’s tests The company’s spokesperson told Bloomberg in an announcement that “our close cooperation together with Army has allowed us to rapidly develop” and alter the goggles “to create a transformative platform that can improve safety and efficiency to soldiers. We are now working on the manufacturing and delivery of the first set.”
The assistant secretary of the Army of acquisition Doug Bush, said that the Army “is completely aware” of the concerns raised by the testing office, and has been adjusting the schedule for the program “to give time to come up with solutions to the issues that were identified,” Bloomberg reported.
However, despite these results, Bush gave the Army the green light to start accepting the first 55,000 pairs of goggles that were held up.
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and a master’s degree student at the New York University’s Business & Economic Reporting program.
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