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Microsoft wins Army contract to develop, provide augmented-reality headsets

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Microsoft, it was announced Wednesday, has won a contract with the U.S. Army to develop and provide over 120,000 devices augmented-reality headsets, which the Army says will allow soldiers to fight, rehearse, and train using a single platform.

An Army press release on Wednesday suggested that the headsets would provide night-vision, thermal vision, and other sensors “integrated into a unified Heads Up Display.”

“The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the CCF [Close Combat Force] can rehearse before engaging any adversaries,” the press release read.

In a statement to CNBC, a Microsoft spokesperson indicated that the deal could be worth up to $21.88 billion over 10 years.

This Microsoft-Army deal comes after a $480 million contract Microsoft was awarded in 2018 to provide the Army prototypes of Integrated Visual Augmented System (IVAS)—production versions of which the technology company will provide in accordance with the new deal.

“The IVAS headset, based on HoloLens and augmented by Microsoft Azure cloud services, delivers a platform that will keep soldiers safer and make them more effective,” Alex Kipman, a technical fellow at Microsoft and the person who introduced the HoloLens in 2015, penned in a Wednesday blog post. “The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.”

That 2018 deal, however, was not without its controversy. In response to Microsoft receiving that contract, several dozen of its employees signed a letter in protest, condemning the company for providing its technology for “warfare and oppression.”

“We are a global coalition of Microsoft workers and we refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression,” their letter stated. “We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the U.S. military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar kicked off House Foreign Affairs Committee

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Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar was voted off the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday. The action was expected, as Republican members of Congress had criticized Omar’s antisemetic and anti-American rhetoric.

After intense debating on the House floor, the resolution passed with a 218-211 vote. Democrats attempted to pull the race card, accusing Republican House members of racism for removing Omar from the committee.

Omar also accused House Republicans of racism, saying, “I am Muslim, I am an immigrant, and interestingly, from Africa…Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy, or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced?”

“There is this idea that you are a suspect if you are an immigrant or if you are from certain parts of the world or certain skin tone or a muslim.” Omar said during the heated debate. A fiery Alexandria Ocasia Cortez also chimed in shouting, “This is an attack on women of color!”

Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, from New York, said she had personally witnessed Omar spew anti-American rhetoric. Malliotakis said, “I have been in that committee room where, the representative, equates Israel and the United States to Hamas and the Taliban. Absolutely unacceptable for a member of that committee.”

A four-page resolution was written for the justification of removing Omar from the house Foreign Affairs Committee. The resolution states that in 2019, Omar suggested that Jewish people were buying U.S. political support when she posted on Twitter, “it’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”

Omar also commented on the September 11th attacks saying, “some people did something.” This type of comment is unacceptable for any representative who is sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, lawmakers said.

In the resolution it states that members of this committee should all be held to an “equal standard of conduct due to the international sensitivities and national security concerns under the jurisdiction of this committee.”

 

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