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US Army soldiers experienced physical side-effects using IVAS, Pentagon report finds

Soldiers from the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division used an IVAS prototype during solider touchpoint 3 in October 2020 at Fort Pickett in Virginia. (US Army)

US Army soldiers experienced a range of physical ailments from headaches and nausea to neck strain while donning Microsoft's militarised HoloLens 2 augmented reality (AR) system during testing last year and they were unable to complete essential combat tasks, according to the Pentagon's chief weapons tester.

Service leaders postponed the initial operational test and evaluation benchmark for the new Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) last year after deciding they first needed to fix several hardware and software shortcomings. Pending changes include reducing the heads-up display's field-of-view from 80° to 70°, addressing a humidity issue with one component, and fixing software ‘reliability and stability' issues that sometimes ‘crash' the system, Janes has previously reported.

A newly issued “controlled unclassified information” edition of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) annual report for 2021 provides additional details about these IVAS problems and gives a limited insight into soldiers' feedback on the technology they are expected to use on the battlefield and for training.

“While user acceptance has improved with [capability set] CS 4, soldiers still have slightly negative to neutral opinions on the acceptability of CS 4,” the office wrote. “Soldiers continue to lack confidence in their ability to complete the most essential warfighting functions effectively and safely while wearing the IVAS in all mission scenarios.”

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