Microsoft HoloLens for the military: Hacker attacks on VR headset may cause physical pain
Microsoft has been manufacturing mixed reality and virtual reality HoloLens headsets for the military since 2021. Now the Research and Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense fears that soldiers wearing VR devices could be incapacitated by "cognitive attacks" from hackers.
The devices are intended to enable soldiers to see through smoke and around corners, use holographic images for training and project 3D terrain maps into the field of vision at the touch of a button. The military HoloLens' mixed reality technology has advanced features such as thermal imaging, sensors, GPS technology and night vision capabilities.
Due to new security concerns, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced an initiative to develop tactical mixed reality systems to protect against cognitive attacks:
Such attacks can include information flooding to increase equipment latency and induce physical illness, planting real-world objects to overwhelm displays, subverting a personal area network to sow confusion, injecting virtual data to distract personnel, using objects to overwhelm a user with confusing false alarms, assessing user status through an eye tracker, and other potential attacks.
However, the HoloLens headsets currently in use can trigger various physical ailments in soldiers such as nausea, headaches and eye problems, even in the absence of hypothetical hacker attacks. The US military is therefore demanding an overhaul of the devices, in which US$22 billion in taxpayer money has been invested to date. Unfortunately, instead of the requested US$400 million, Congress has only provided US$40 million to overhaul the unpopular headsets.