Catch A Glimpse Of Your Future Self Through Virtual Reality
This exoskeleton simulates adding 40 years to your life and helps build empathy for seniors
Virtual reality is often described as a vehicle for empathy, but this notion is taken to its limits with the new R70i Aging Suit which lets you experience the physical effects of aging. The suit weights around 40 pounds, making your arms and legs feel stiff and heavy, and the exoskeleton, VR headset and headphones can further recreate some common age-related conditions.
The experience is divided into three section that alter participants’ sight, hearing and motor functions respectively. The camera installed on the top of the helmet streams the images directly to the VR headset, altering the visuals accordingly to the condition—general blurriness for cataracts, darkened edges for glaucoma and image distortion for macular degeneration.
In order to recreate the feeling of frustration that elderly patients often experience due to their hearing problems, headphones return deformed sound, for example, an echo of users’ own words to show how having aphasia may feel like. The motor functions are distorted by adding resistance to the specific parts of the exoskeleton while participants are walking on the treadmill, making walking just a couple of feet an exhausting endeavor.
Developed by Genworth, an insurance company specializing in long-term care and life insurance, the experience is a smart and entertaining way to make problems that seem distant relevant to the target demographic. It is hard for millennials to imagine their bodies failing them and the Aging Experience definitely helps put things into perspective.
The Genworth suit is on display at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey until April 10.