In a bid to get some insight into how it feels to be an aging member of American society without having to wait to get old, researchers at MIT’s Agelab have developed a suit that will make you feel like a 75-year-old when you wear it. The suit, called AGNES –a pained acronym for “Age Gain Now Empathy System”– aims to accurately recreate the experience of being elderly through the use of various bands and other gadgets that do everything from mimic joint stiffness to curve the spine. Think “Harrison Bergeron.” The suit does basically everything except give you stories from “back in your day.”
AGNES covers all the bases. While the bands mimic stiffness and limit movement, AGNES also comes with a helmet that affects the wearer’s ability to see –negatively, of course– and ear plugs that mimic age-related hearing loss. There aren’t many variables left out, except maybe cognitive ones. The main purpose behind this suit is to give the youth a better idea of how to cater to an aging population. Now, more than ever before, people are living longer but our society still caters to youth.
Wearing the suits, a number of researchers headed out to an average grocery store to try and shop for some low sodium, low sugar, low fat foods that are commonly associated with their altered age group. What they found was that reading the small print and trying to hunt down the products in general was exceedingly difficult. The hope is that this kind of first hand experience “being old” will help promote change that might make the world a little bit more convenient for our elders. Of course, if they could just build a suit that made you feel younger this would all be an non-issue, right?
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