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HoloLens 2 could be launched at MWC19; dozens of Microsoft staff oppose its proposed military applications

The Commercial Suite version of Microsoft's HoloLens costs US$5,000 per unit. (Source: Microsoft)
The Commercial Suite version of Microsoft's HoloLens costs US$5,000 per unit. (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft and its CEO, Satya Nadella, will be in attendance at MWC19 in Barcelona, and it is rumored that the company’s new HoloLens 2 AR smartglasses will be revealed. However, at least 50 Microsoft employees have publicly objected to the tech giant’s US$480 million contract with the U.S. Army that involves the augmented-reality headset.

It seems any launch of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 will not be without controversy. Notebookcheck reported back in November how the Redmond-based company had managed to secure a contract with the U.S. Army to develop a version of the AR headset that could be used for military applications. Now, dozens of the firm’s employees have got together to send a letter to Satya Nadella and Brad Smith (President and Chief Legal Officer) to contest the US$480-million agreement.

Part of the military contract reads “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” which makes it pretty clear that Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 would be used in situations where people would be killed. The employees objecting to the contract have stated that “we did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.”

Microsoft employees not willing to work on the military-based Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) project would apparently be allowed to work in other departments. But the critics behind the letter feel that engineers who already worked on HoloLens 2 may now be “finding themselves implicated as war profiteers.” There’s no doubt there would be some lucrative non-military applications for Microsoft’s AR smartglasses, but it seems unlikely the company will just let go of a contract worth almost half a billion dollars.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 02 > HoloLens 2 could be launched at MWC19; dozens of Microsoft staff oppose its proposed military applications
Daniel R Deakin, 2019-02-23 (Update: 2019-02-23)