Monday, November 6, 2017

A Futuristic Suit That Gives You a Taste of Old Age

What could it possibly be like to be old? The stooped shuffle, the halting speech, the dimming senses.

An at Liberty Science Center [this past April} in Jersey City answers the question by letting you walk a proverbial mile in your elders’ orthopedic shoes. Slip into the R70i Age Suit, a robotic contraption complete with “augmented reality” goggles, and suddenly you are 85.

It is not very pleasant.

An attendant cranks up a fader and your vision dissolves into melty, grayed-out blobs, like a memorably unvivid psychedelic experience. “This is called age-related macular degeneration,” the suit’s inventor, Bran Ferren, said at a preview on Thursday.

More knobs twiddle, and your hearing is subsumed in a fog of tinnitus, muffling and distortion. A dose of echo is added to the sound mix, interrupting your speaking and simulating the effects of aphasia.

Now it was time to move about. Loaded with hardware and a computer, the suit itself weighs 40 pounds, distributed as uncomfortably as possible. “It’s going to get much worse,” promised Mr. Ferren, a noted special effects designer. “You haven’t lived.”

I raised an arm, as if to reach up on a shelf, and the suit’s system of torquers and electronic disc brakes sprang into action. It felt like my joints had become entirely ungreased. I could barely lift my arm above my shoulder.

Mr. Ferren invited me onto a treadmill. I hobbled up.

“Now let’s start losing muscle strength,” he said.

Why does your grandfather move so slowly? Because, apparently, walking across the parking lot for him feels like hour three of a hike up a mountain, wearing an overstuffed, lopsided backpack. (This may also explain why he’s cranky.)

For an extra frisson, Mr. Ferren set the resistance on one side of my body to a so-called normal level and the other to an extreme. The settings mimicked how he felt while trying to walk just before he had a hip replaced five weeks ago at the tender age of 63.

Full Article and Source:
A Futuristic Suit That Allows You to Experience Old Age

1 comment:

Betty said...

The younger crowd won't be interested.