This Crazy Suit Helps Researchers Learn What It's Like to Be Old
The Age Gain Now Empathy Suit transforms you into a 74-year-old.
What's it like to be 74? With MIT's AgeLab' s Age Gain Now Empathy Suit, you can feel the limitations of age 74. The AGNES Suit is helping MIT researchers understand the best products to make being 74 easier. Reporter Natasha Singer wore the suit and reported on her experience in yesterday's New York Times:
At first glance, it may look like a mere souped-up jumpsuit. A helmet, attached by cords to a pelvic harness, cramps my neck and spine. Yellow-paned goggles muddy my vision. Plastic bands, running from the harness to each arm, clip my wingspan. Compression knee bands discourage bending. Plastic shoes, with uneven Styrofoam pads for soles, throw off my center of gravity. Layers of surgical gloves make me all thumbs.
The article also explained that:
The number of people 65 and older is expected to more than double worldwide, to about 1.5 billion by 2050 from 523 million last year, according to estimates from the United Nations. That means people 65 and over will soon outnumber children under 5 for the first time ever.\n
A majority of the population over 65 also means that there is a largely untapped market for products, technologies and even designer geriatric aids. Last month we wrote aboutOmhu, one of the first companies to specialize in making beautifully designed products that also aid every day life for older adults.
A more reluctant aging population means that corporations are going to have to produce technologies that allow people to live the fullest lives possible. This means going a step beyond producing a wireless emergency button for those "I've fallen and can't get up" scenarios. Devices such as a wireless smart pill dispenser to help keep track of medicines being dispensed or an anthromorphic robot named Celia, designed to allow a person to communicate with loved ones. While there is a long way to go in order to make the ideal scenario for aging become a reality, the opening of the marketplace and growing interest in concerns relating to the quality of life for those entering another stage of life means that there is room for large-scale changes in how we care for our elders.
You can watch a video of the suit in action here.