U.S. soldiers who have tested a custom version of Microsoft’s HoloLens goggles, a mixed reality headset, have reported experiencing “mission-affecting physical impairments,” according to multiple reports.
Those who participated in the tests suffered nausea, headaches, and eyestrain, a summary of tests compiled by the Pentagon and accessed by Bloomberg states. Soldiers used the goggles in field tests—with over 80 percent who reported discomfort having symptoms three hours after use. The device failed in four out of the six evaluation events during an “operational demo,” a Microsoft employee who was briefed about the event said to Business Insider.
One of the soldiers who tested the goggles said that it would get them killed because the device was generating light. In real-life scenarios, the light would simply alert an enemy of the wearer’s location. The glow was visible from hundreds of meters away.
Soldiers also found that their field of view was restricted, and the weight of the device limited some of their movements.
In the test summary accessed by Bloomberg, Nickolas Guertin, director of Operation Test and Evaluation, pointed out that the system saw too many failures of essential functions. Despite these drawbacks, however, Guertin did not dismiss the use of the goggles.
Instead, he recommended the U.S. Army to “prioritize improvements” before it chooses to deploy the devices so as to reduce the “physical discomfort” of users. He found that the goggles need improvements in their field of vision, display clarity, and low-light sensors.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Microsoft.
Microsoft received the contract to create a modified version of HoloLens for military use in March 2021. The deal, which could be worth more than $21 billion, involved supplying the U.S. Army with more than 120,000 goggles.
In a blog post on Mar. 31, 2021, Microsoft claimed that the modified HoloLens “delivers a platform that will keep soldiers safer and make them more effective. The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.”
The Army had placed an initial order for 5,000 goggles that month, valued at $373 million. However, the order was put on hold late last year in order to enhance the technology used in the device. The tests will help decide whether Congress approves the $424.2 million the Army has requested for the program.
“The emerging results indicate that the program achieved success in most of the Army evaluation criteria,” Brigadier General Christopher D. Schneider said in a statement to Insider.
“However, the results also identified areas where IVAS (goggles) fell short and needs additional improvements, which the Army will address,” he added. (IVAS is an integrated visual augmentation system.)