Geo Week News

August 22, 2016

Israel's Army is using HoloLens for the Battlefield

IDF-augmented -reality
Courtesy of IDF

With all the hype over augmented reality solutions like Microsoft’s HoloLens, it can be easy to forget that this technology is meant to be used for real work (and not just flashy demos). That’s why it’s great to see this example of the Israeli army using the technology in the real world.

The army’s C2 Systems Department shelled out the money for two HoloLens developers kits, and they plan to use the technology for battlefield strategy and personnel training applications.

Bloomberg explains it less than a month after receiving the devices, a few developers have already made software that “allows commanders to manipulate military terrain models and intelligence data to monitor troop positioning from enemy vantage point.” Battlefield maps are projected over satellite imagery of the real terrain.

The same developers are creating software that teaches medics how to operate on wounded soldiers with remote instruction from surgical experts. Similarly, they’re working on an application that teaches soldiers how to fix equipment in the field.

Lessons for Commercial Use

This application of augmented reality is not so different from applications in construction, industrial facilities, oil & gas, or most of the industries we usually cover here at SPAR. They are using HoloLens to lay necessary digital data over our view of the real world. Only in this case that data is battlefield maps rather than, say, design models. They are also using it for remote collaboration to aid in completing tasks properly, only in this case it’s a surgical operation instead of a building project.

What makes this Israeli army project really different is the speed at which they deployed the technology. Where most private companies are dipping their toes in the water, cautiously testing augmented reality technology in their workflows, the Israeli army has put the technology to use in under a month—beating their regular 24-month development period by a solid 23 months.

Major Rotem Bashi, the commander of the department developing HoloLens for military use, told Bloomberg that the lengthy development cycles “could mean the technology soldiers were working from would be almost obsolete by the time it was ready for deployment.”

Their solution may or may not be enticing to those of you looking to adopt new technologies before they go obsolete: Use a “minimal viable product” that works well enough to use now, and improve it as you go. Get testing inexpensive, potentially disruptive technologies before you fall behind the curve.

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