It’s called the AGNES, which stands for “Age Gain Now Empathy System”. It probably helps “Agnes” is a suitably old-sounding name too, at least to my ears. But how exactly does this piece of attire put you in the shoes (or clothes) of a 75-year old and, better still, why would you ever want to wear it?
It’s kind of an odd thing to go to the trouble of designing and building, but AgeLab director Joseph Coughlin sees it being a useful tool to help younger generations better understand the needs of those less mobile and easily fatigued. AgeLab, a part of MIT’s School of Engineering, is responsible for creating the suit.
Another potential benefit is helping companies create products better suited for older customers. Coughlin believes it could also be used to shock the unhealthy out of you — there’s nothing like being an old, unfit man or woman for a day to motivate you into daily workouts and better eating.
Looking at the specs, it doesn’t look like they missed any of the inconveniences someone 70+ would experience. Here’s a breakdown by the LA Times:
Special shoes provide a feeling of imbalance, while braces on the knees and elbows limit joint mobility. Gloves give the illusion of decreased strength and mobility in the hands and wrists, and earplugs make it difficult to hear high-pitched sounds and soft tones. A helmet with straps attached to it compresses the spine, and more straps attached to the shoes decrease hamstring flexibility, and shortens the wearer’s gait.
If you want to see how it works, just hit up the clip below. Even with this video, it’s hard to see how difficult it is to function in the suit. I imagine it’s a case of attrition — mounting fatigue and pain would eventually see you crying to get out.
Image: Nathan Fried-Lipski