'Reverse Iron Man' Suit Makes Wearer Feel Decades Older

'I now fear getting old'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 6:00 PM CST

(Newser) – A tech company has built "a reverse Iron Man" suit, in the words of the Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey Fowler. The R70i Age Suit is designed to make the wearer feel what it's like to be decades older. Fowler, who tried on the suit during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, describes the experience as "unforgettable" and "distressing." Or as Quartz's Mike Murphy, who also tried on the suit, puts it: "I now fear getting old." The R70i's virtual-reality visor simulates the effects of everything from cataracts to glaucoma, while headphones increase background noise and add tinnitus, the Journal reports. Murphy writes that the simulated hearing problems made it difficult to even recite the lyrics to a children's song.

Fowler says he was most surprised by what the suit did to his mobility. The R70i "puts the brakes" on eight joints in the arms, legs, and hips to simulate arthritis and muscle deterioration, the Journal reports. "Ordinary tasks like walking around and lifting my arms became extremely difficult," Fowler writes. "I was sweating enough that my Age Suit needed a good wash after I was done with it." According to Murphy, walking with the "legs of a 100-year-old" felt like "walking through waist-high mud," and a simulated damaged hip made it hard to stay on a treadmill. An insurance company plans to use the suit to help people better understand aging, the Journal reports. “You can intellectualize these things all day long, but when it becomes an emotional first-person experience, it is very different," says the co-founder of Applied Minds, which made the suit. (Read more aging stories.)

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