Disorientation and Malfunction: Challenges With $22 Billion Program's High-Tech Goggles

Soldiers using augmented reality goggles/ photo credit: U.S. Army
Soldiers using augmented reality goggles/ photo credit: U.S. Army

A massive American program is facing difficulties that may delay the rollout of an expensive technological development by up to two years

The full-scale production of the U.S. Army's IVAS (the Integrated Visual Augmentation System) augmented-reality goggles, which were supposed to be equipped with, has been delayed for two years, with plans to launch production in the summer of 2025 - according to Defense One. This is in contrast to previous reports that serial production would begin this year.

However, limited deployment of the technology will occur as early as next year. As stated in the written testimony, the Army is currently progressing to field IVAS 1.0 to training units and IVAS version 1.1 to operational units during the fiscal year 2024, while complete production for combat forces is anticipated in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2025.

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It is worth noting that the program had serious flaws, with Rep. Bob Wittman, R-Va., complaining that at least one symptom, such as disorientation, dizziness, eye problems, headaches, neck problems, and tunnel vision, was reported by soldiers after using the goggles.

However, according to Douglas R. Bush, head of procurement for the U.S. Army, while the goggles "did not work as well as we thought," the program was restructured and rerouted in a new direction over several months.

Overall, the $60,000 goggles must be carefully tested to "ensure that soldier lethality is enhanced and that Army’s limited budget is maximized," according to Bush, who noted that the first steps toward production rates and increases were "very aggressive," and that this time around, they need to be more cautious because "this 1.2 system needs to be exactly what the Army needs or we're not going to produce it".

It is noteworthy that IVAS augmented reality goggles are being developed jointly with Microsoft as part of a massive $22 billion program.

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