Counter-Strike in real life: how IVAS will work - Microsoft's version of HoloLens for the military

By: Sergjy Koloskov | 15.07.2022, 11:30
Counter-Strike in real life: how IVAS will work - Microsoft's version of HoloLens for the military

The US Army is preparing to "arm" its soldiers with augmented reality systems. The IVAS device has already passed several stages of testing and had to pass the final exam last month. However, no information has yet been received about the start of serial production of holographic glasses. Let's figure out, if this system does become operational, how it will affect the combat capabilities of the infantryman.


IVAS, aka Integrated Visual Augmentation System, is nothing but the military version Microsoft HoloLens — holographic augmented reality glasses. This technology was in trends 10 years ago.

Distance learning in augmented reality: one example of using Microsoft HoloLens glasses

Remember Google Glass and other similar developments? At that time, augmented reality technology was considered breakthrough, a lot of companies rushed to develop augmented reality glasses and software. However, the consumer did not appreciate it. Augmented reality has not gone to the mass market (we do not take hunting for Pokemon into account). Maybe it didn't work because Apple didn't release its glasses (sarcasm), but in narrow niches the technology turned out to be in demand and gradually developed.

2012 Google Glass promo video


There was a project in the USA called Tactical Assault Light Operator's Suit or TALOS. Such a universal system of equipping a soldier, which was supposed to make him look like "Iron Man". The project was covered by a copper basin, but a number of developments continued to exist.

The Americans experimented a lot with improving the capabilities of small arms. We developed a sight with variable magnification, a data transmission system from the optics to the fighter's glasses for accurate shooting from cover. This resulted in the project NGSW-FC. Then there were "transparent armor" systems. When the crew and paratroopers in armored vehicles could see everything around them through the same augmented reality glasses. Night vision systems and a thermal imager in one housing were also developed. A variety of personal electronics of a soldier can be included there - navigators, targeting systems, tablets for controlling drones, communication systems and much more.

This is what one of the night vision systems being tested by the US Army looks like

And then all this began to be combined into a single IVAS system. All necessary information is displayed on the screen of augmented reality glasses, which can look like the interface of a computer game.

Visualization of one of the early projects of an augmented reality system for the military

The military version of Microsoft HoloLens has a number of differences from the civilian version. And if the first prototypes did not differ much from the basic version, then in the pre-production model they look more tactical. Equipped with a night vision device, a thermal imager, a communication system and much more.

IVAS test and pre-series samples

Yes, they look a little bulky, and the wire spoils the picture. But now let's consider how much one IVAS system can replace, as well as how many opportunities it will give the soldier.

Things that will not be needed with IVAS: ballistic glasses, night vision device, thermal imager, tablet computer, map, compass, watch, walkie-talkie. Laser range finder and other gadgets are already built in smart sight NGSW-FC, which, in addition, is able to send the picture from the optics to the glasses.

It is quite possible that soon American soldiers will see the battlefield like this (screenshot from the game Counter Strike)

So it turns out that a soldier with these glasses will be able to see at night, through smoke or fog, communicate with his comrades, receive instructions about targets, see in real time a picture from a reconnaissance drone or satellite. And let's add here a navigation system (satellite and room maps), the ability to see the surrounding environment while in a closed armored vehicle and much more.

We saw how you snorted under our armored car


Of course, IVAS is a new technology. It will take years for the system to work flawlessly. Especially when Microsoft is involved (sarcasm). However, the US Ministry of Defense is serious and has pledged almost $22 billion for future purchases of tens of thousands of IVAS kits. So we are waiting for the results of the final test of the system and the announcement of the start of mass production of IVAS. And there we will monitor software updates.

For those who want to know more