And reeeach for the shredded wheat…
Pregnancy suit, meet age suit. Just as scientists in Japan made a suit full of balloons, warm water, and accelerometers to give men a sense of what pregnancy feels like, scientists at MIT have put together a suit that simulates being in one’s mid-70s. But it’s a little easier to see the applications with this one. By 2030, 20% of the American population will be over the age of 65, and if you think these folks are going to willingly weather a world designed by and for hyperactive 26-year-old yoga enthusiasts, well, you’ve got another thing coming. By putting on this suit, architects, store designers, and other professionals preoccupied with how people interact with the physical world can get a sense of what old age is like, and design accordingly.
And what does old age feel like? According to the folks at MIT’s Age Lab, where the suit was developed, like having giant rubber bands keeping your limbs from fully extending, braces that make your arms stiff, a helmet that makes your spine curve uncomfortably, and glasses that make small print hard to read, among other impairments. Just watch the video below of students creaking around a grocery store trying to pick up elder-friendly items like low-fat and low-sugar food, and you’ll sense right away how much flexibility and ease of movement will be taken from you as you age.
It kind of makes your heart sink to see how hard it becomes to pull down a bottle of juice from the shelf. Me, I’m going for a Neuromancer-style upload to the matrix, stat.