Most of us have at some point or another become impatient with a 'slow, bumbling' elderly adult or a grandparent 'moaning' about aches and pains. Would we be as dismissive, if we knew what they were going through?
Now, thanks to the AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System) suit developed by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Age Lab, we can all experience the plight of the elderly.
Thankfully, however, the transformation is not a result of an irreversible chemical reaction, but a temporary condition caused by different gadgets that are attached to the suit. To emulate slow movement and joint pain, two stretchy bands, restrict the legs from extending all the way. A special helmet with straps attaches to the spine and alters body posture, so that person can experience how it feels to walk around with a little stoop.
Special shoes restrict the gait by reducing hamstring flexibility. And that's not all - Wear the gloves that come with the suit, and you will realize why the elderly cannot lift things as deftly as a young person. To complete the experience, AGNES comes with special earphones that make it difficult to hear to hear really sharp or soft sounds.
While an AGNES experience is bound to emanate some sympathy for the elderly, that is not the primary purpose behind its creation. It has largely been invented so that designers and engineers can create safer crosswalks, stairs, accessible grocery aisles and so on - A very important consideration given that the elderly population in the US alone, is expected to exceed over 7.2 million, by the year 2030.
In addition, AGNES has been modeled after an adult who has led an extremely unhealthy life, hence projecting a senior citizen in the worst possible health condition. By doing so, the scientists are hoping to encourage today's youth to make better food choices and remain active, which in turn, will help them age better.
So, the next time you are feeling lazy or eating too much junk, be sure to reflect back on AGNES and, while 75 may seem like eons of years away, it will come by sooner than you think - Just ask your grandparents!
Resources: latimes.com, tested.com,odditycentral.com