Microsoft secures $480 million contract with U.S. Army for HoloLens headsets

Microsoft will supply the U.S. Army with HoloLens headsets for combat and training purposes as part of a $480 million contract. Bloomberg reports that the contract could ultimately result in the Army's purchase of more than 100,000 headsets.

"Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area," a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg.

According to the description of the program, the Army will use the headsets to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide, and engage before the enemy."

HoloLens has already seen plenty of use in enterprise scenarios, often assisting in manufacturing, as well as the design and medical industries. The version of HoloLens the Army will receive will ultimately look quite a bit different from the headset we've come to know, however. According to Bloomberg, the Army has asked Microsoft to incorporate night vision, thermal sensing, and the ability to monitor vital signs like breathing and look for signs of concussions.

The bidding process saw Microsoft beat out a number of other competitors, including Magic Leap, which recently released its first consumer AR headset.

The contract comes at a time when tech companies are facing increased scrutiny over their work with government agencies. Earlier this year, Microsoft found itself in the middle of controversy over its work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as the agency came under fire for its treatment of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. More than 100 Microsoft employees protested, calling for an end to the company's work with ICE in an open letter.