The automobile industry giant, Ford, has come up with a peculiar suit that allows the wearer to experience old age before time. The suit is basically an intricate array of weights, restraints, gloves, goggles and headphones that are capable of imparting the feel of old age. The suit has been designed after modeling the body of a 104-year old.
The movement becomes difficult and slows down once you put the suit on. It also creates an unnatural hunch while blurring and muffling the surrounding world. Ford has developed this bizarre Third Age Suit to enable its engineers to better design their cars for the older generation. The suit, now in its third generation, has been designed so that it can mimic tremors and sight problems as well – all problems that make driving hard for elderly folks.
The technology inspired Ford into replacing the ignition keys with a button on the dashboard, thus allowing people suffering from arthritis to start the cars without any hassle. Other features that have been incorporated include automated parking, automatic braking technology and new door handles – again, all aimed at making driving fun and easy for older generation.
Mike Bradley, a senior research associate at Cambridge University Engineering Design Center said, “When we first began our work, we were seen as the Ford team with the funny suit. Many older people used to stop driving – instantly losing their independence because something as simple as not being able to park a car or drive at night forced people off the road. The majority of engineers and designers were – and still are – young people who cannot imagine living with some of the limitations older drivers face. This is no longer the case due in part to the Third Age Suit.”
The Age Suit features joint restraints that inhibit movement and prevent joints from bending to their full extent. Its settings can be altered to mimic various age groups. A back brace also causes a forced hunch thus rendering the user unable to straighten up completely. A heavy weight vest adds over 10kg and thus bending down becomes exhausting soon enough. Weights on legs also make walking quite difficult while vibrating gloves induce tremor that can even make simplistic tasks into a pain. Ford has even developed a family of glasses that stimulates a variety of eye conditions from glaucoma to macular degeneration.
A neck brace has also been added to the mix to inhibit head movements. Ford is launching a marketing campaign that has been named as Unlearn and is aimed at asking people to challenge conventional thinking.
104-year old Fauja Singh, as part of this marketing campaign, explains how he has challenged the conventional concept of old age by still managing to run marathons. He said, “To run multiple marathons you have to be committed to yourself and to your health and you also have a duty of care to other people, that all faiths give you the obligation to fulfill. I’ve changed people’s minds about old people so that they think – yes, old people can achieve much themselves too.”