I have a vague memory of an exercise in elementary school in which, among other contrivances, the students smeared Vaseline on a pair of non-prescription glasses in order to simulate the effects of old age. As good as that science was, some researchers over at MIT created an impressive full-body aging simulation, complete with bungees (to bend the body and make everyday tasks more difficult) and a jumpsuit (because old people like jumpsuits (I think)).
A product of the MIT Age Lab, the project has the DARPA-level acronym AGNES, which stands, only slightly awkwardly, for Age Gain Now Empathy System. It's a full-body suit that mostly relies on bungees to bend the body and make ordinary tasks more difficult. The helmet is bungeed to the torso, causing the wearer to bend forward; the wrists are bungeed to the hips, making reaching and grabbing difficult (but inadvertently providing an excellent resistance-band workout); and the legs are bungeed to the waist, making walking more strenuous.
There are also glasses which, in a less-oogy kind of way, are a rough analog for my childhood Vaseline goggles: they make reading small print more difficult.
Several presumably active students were outfitted in this uniform and set around a grocery store, having to cope with the physical impairment that old age brings. It's not just for fun, though; as the population stays active longer, it's important for all kinds of industrial designers, engineers, architects, and others to really understand how the elderly move about the world. There's more to helping an aging population than injecting them with young mouse blood or all the ideas Bill Andrews is coming up with. Also, it's probably fun.
What if you put an old guy in the suit?
Considering the variation of humanity and old age, I find this suit a waste of ergonomics. Sure, it is attempt at quantifying an old age standard, but I think it's like me closing my eyes and pretending to be blind or a male pretending to be pregnant. An approximation can be made, but it’s so much better just to go to the source. If accountant or an engineer really wants to make a positive and effective difference, they need to get as close to the source as possible.
Why not survey several 1000 types of old people and get their responses to the store?
It's like the word 'respect'. I can guess to what the person wishes to be called or I can simply ask them and be absolutely correct in my response then.
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
juujuuuujj - no because young people know more than old people. So instead of raising the retirement age and employing these designers, we lay them off then get 20 somethings to design stuff for them.
Next up - perfectly healthy people sitting in wheel chairs to determine what works for the handicapped.
1. Reverse suit making movement easier
2. Sell to old people
juujuuuujj- I was thinking the same thing! That'd either be really entertaining, or dreadfully boring to watch.
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