A Suit That Forces People to Face Aging
Aging can be an uncomfortable subject. What really happens to the body and the mind as we get older? And how should we be caring for the elderly? Bran Ferren, the former president of Research and Development for Walt Disney’s Imagineering and founder of Applied Minds, invented the Genworth R70i Aging Experience to give younger generations a sense of the physical effects of aging—and, more importantly, to open up the conversation about long-term care.
Designers with the makeup and special effects studio Spectral Motion, in partnership with Genworth Insurance, created a suit that essentially disables its wearer. Goggles simulate glaucoma and other optical impairments, and the suit's gloves and boots are loaded with tungsten weights to mimic stiffness caused by arthritis. The shoes were designed to make balancing difficult, and there's even an adjustable internal mechanism to simulate varying degrees of posture problems.
Ferren explained the simulation as the “next best thing” to actually aging, and hopes that it will introduce “a new conversation with the American public.”
The possibilities are endless with the R70i, according to Clint Hope, the chief scientist at Applied Minds. The suit provides “an opportunity for us to put a lot of sensors that are meaningful, turn them on and off and change the suit depending on the story you’re trying to tell,” he notes.
On June 29, 2015, Genworth will display the R70i Aging Experience at the Aspen Ideas Festival. The original R70 was introduced in 2014.