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MIT develops a suit that makes you feel like you're 75 years old

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January 2, 2012

Called AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System), the suit replicates what it might be like to b...

Called AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System), the suit replicates what it might be like to be in a 75-year-old body

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What does it really feel like to be 75 years old? A group of researchers in MIT's Agelab have created a suit to help people understand what it might be like to navigate the world as a senior citizen.

Called AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System), the suit replicates what it might be like to be in a 75-year-old body, replicating dexterity, flexibility, motor, and visual elements into a suit that can be worn by people of all ages.

Braces on the suit mimic joint stiffness and make it hard to walk, leg straps limit how fast you can travel, and a helmet causes your head to be forced forward, mimicking the curved spine of an older adult. Yellow goggles and earplugs are the final touch on the outfit, making it difficult to read and hear some things.

The idea behind the technology is to help those creating public transportation and retail spaces for older adults understand what challenges those people may have. Researchers sent students out to grocery stores wearing the suit to find low-sodium, low-sugar, and low-fat products that are typically purchased by older adults, and the students found it difficult to do so.

In addition to AGNES, the group has also created an AwareCar for better understanding the driving difficulties senior citizens may face.

Curious about what the suit looks like in action? You can check out AGNES in the video below.

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15 Comments

Thanks a lot.

Now maybe they could come up with a suit that makes me feel like I'm 25 again.

oldguy
3rd January, 2012 @ 07:49 am PST

I'm gonna be 80 this year. Is there a suit to make me feel 75 or much younger?

Marvin Keith
3rd January, 2012 @ 08:10 am PST

Very funny. This article was written by a younger person or persons who have little idea of what being 75 may mean. The stereotype they use is absurdly limited. I am 74, have none of the disabilities mentioned, take no medications of any sort, work full time as a maintenance technician at two restaurants, carry on a side business as a truck and car mechanic, am doing research on global warming, and do all of the yard work on a very steep hillside acre of land, on which I plant and tend numerous fruit trees among other things. The "typical" "old" person they reference must have spent most of his life watching TV and eating white bread, hydrogenated oil, and bacon for breakfast, with artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors and colors, and lots of other environmental toxins added in. Since I was aware of the importance of good nutrition and avoidance of stupid chemistry (pesticides, hairspray, deodorant soap, herbicides, etc) for the past 60 years, I have avoided all of the common illnesses and degenerative problems that are wrongly accepted as inevitable by "modern society". What you folks need to develop is a "brain suit" that "replicates" what it would be like to be able to think clearly.

jjgg38
3rd January, 2012 @ 09:12 am PST

This is pure BS! Look, if your physiology is like how this suit depicts you to be at 75, then you might as well put a bullet in your head now!

My dad is in his mid 70s and in no *WAY* behaves like this suit depicts! He snow-skis every year along with hi 83 year old ski partner who is marrying a 77 year who also skis every year! I met up with a group of skiers who are a club that only accepts 60 and up skiers! Not a single one of them walked with a stoop, none of them creaked or moaned...they were spry and light in foot when they walked...*EVEN* while wearing ski boots indoors! I can only hope that I am that active when I'm in my 70s! I'm looking forward to the day when I can test that hypothosis!

Ed
3rd January, 2012 @ 02:13 pm PST

Let's find another couple examples of people in their 70s who don't have problems with mobility, vision, or hearing so we can conclude that no one over 70 has any of those problems.

I'm sure we can find a 90 year old who has smoked 3 packs of unfiltered packs of cigarettes a day for 76 years and has never been sick, so we can conclude that cigarettes are benign for everyone.

I'm also sure there is an 85 year old person who has never had a car accident in 70 years of driving, so we can conclude that car accidents never happen.

Isn't it amazing what one can do by citing some completely irrelevant anecdotes?

William H Lanteigne
3rd January, 2012 @ 03:13 pm PST

The anecdotes are not irrelevant because the video gives the impression that all of us, or most of us, are that impaired at age 75. In fact, i know people in their 50s who are more impaired and people in their 90s who are less impaired. AgeLab brought up age, after all, they could have talked just about impairment but that would not have been as striking.

Almost 75

Page Schorer
3rd January, 2012 @ 03:40 pm PST

I'm guessing that the professor behind this is 75.

Ethan Brush
3rd January, 2012 @ 04:06 pm PST

You know if this suit wasn't set up to be at the worse end if aging all the people that do feel this way wouldn't benefit from any of this research. I don't think it is a slam against the older population that don't have any of these symptoms.

Katherine Hoffner
3rd January, 2012 @ 06:14 pm PST

"...people in their 50s who are more impaired and people in their 90s who are less impaired."

Exactly why anecdotes are irrelevant. MOST people in their 70s do, in fact, experience some challenges in mobility, vision, and hearing, even more so in their 80s. Most people are dead before they reach 90 (source: CDC mortality charts). Anecdotes prove NOTHING.

There are also plenty of anecdotes of people who keeled over in their 60s, 50s, 40s from heart attacks or cancer, despite "healthy" lifestyles (e.g. Adele Davis, Jim Fixx). That doesn't mean that people, in general, don't benefit from adopting a "healthy" diet and staying fit.

Both my grandfathers lived past 90, my father is alive and functional at 93, my mother lived to be 90, so it's a fair chance I've got "longevity genes," which may be more important than environmental influences. That doesn't mean I won't experience some vision, hearing, and mobility issues in the next 2 or 3 decades, and doesn't guarantee I'll be alive next week- despite my "healthy" diet and exercise regimen.

William H Lanteigne
3rd January, 2012 @ 09:52 pm PST

U don't need a suit dat will make u feel younger if u make sure 2 stay healthy.

This article may b written by a person younger than 75, but it doesn't mean dat he has no knowledge of being 75.

True this is a stereotype of an unhealthy 75, every1 knows dat much dat if u stay healthy then it doesn't matter how old u r.

Gosh ppl gotta stop taking this so seriously, On the positive side, I think this is in more detail meant 4 young ppl 2 feel how it's like 2 b 75 (unhealthy, disability or wutever) so they know wut it's more like and take better care or themselves. Or wear this just 4 fun.

Chan Boriratrit
3rd January, 2012 @ 10:52 pm PST

MIT is the king of reinventing hot water! I heard of such kind of suites 10 if not 20 years ago

ugosugo
4th January, 2012 @ 02:07 am PST

This work was actually commissioned by the United States Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers.

Beware.

david.kristof
4th January, 2012 @ 07:49 am PST

Your mileage may obviously vary with age, but I think in principle it's a great idea to create ways to emulate what a lot of the elderly have to go through.

That said, I'd be more impressed if people simply hired the elderly to actually test products and systems. We often don't, and it's a shame.

To jigg38, while your good health is laudable, you aren't typical these days, and with healthy folks like you, odds are you're going to decline and die very quickly instead of over a very long period of time. The length of that window and complications within varies hugely depending on genetics, nutrition, education, parental, social, and financial status. A suit like they've designed can probably be tweaked on several parameters to emulate a lot of different conditions.

Dave Taylor
9th January, 2012 @ 07:18 pm PST

I think many are missing a point here. Why not just work with older people, talk to them directly, get them involved? Doesn't anyone realize that while we're hard at work developping this "technology" that supposedly replaces the need to have contact with old people to understand their needs and feelings, our grandmothers and grandfathers are rotting away in some elderyly facility, alone?

JeromeC
11th January, 2012 @ 12:43 pm PST

Who needs a suit? LOL

None of you young'uns will ever get old, of course.

Gerard Wenham
12th March, 2013 @ 11:03 am PDT
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