For many young people it's hard to imagine the effects of aging.

So we decided to make a suit to simulate aging.  We talked to experts at the MIT Age Lab.  They made an AGNES or Age Gain Now Empathy System to help businesses design products better suited to the elderly.  Their suit is too large for us so we designed our own based on their principals.
 
The Ops Suit simulates aging by hindering many senses and the muscles.  We use earplugs and tainted goggles to restrict hearing and sight.  We also have exercise bands to lower the ease of mobility and rubber gloves to lower the skin sensitivity.  Our shoes have foam on the bottom to make you step more unsurely.
Our Research
We built our OPS suit in August and spent two weeks living in it before school started.  Every team member had to clock at least a day in the suit.  We went out as a team to do everyday activities such as errands, eating out, getting on public transportation, going to the post office and shopping for food and the drugstore.  Just getting into the car was an ordeal.  Sitting down and getting out of stuffed furniture was hard and stairs were our worst nightmare.  One guy tried sitting on the toilet and found that the low height of them is really scary.
 
One of the best quotes was a team mate who, after struggling with his seatbelt, turned to the coach and said “I now know why old men are so grumpy”.  We went to a medical supply store, Belmont Medical Supply (they donated a walker to us), and tried out and bought mobility devices.  We used them as well and found many problems with the current technology.  By videotaping our trips out in the suit with the devices, we captured problems - like we always lifted the back of the walker up because it couldn’t slide on different surfaces.  We also couldn’t find a good way to carry anything.  Many of the basket solutions in stores would tip over, were too low to use as we lost balance when getting things in or out, we couldn’t reach into conventional shopping baskets, and the list goes on!  When we went to stores, we always talked to the manager and they gave us more observations of the elderly shoppers and their habits/problems. 
 
 
Once, when going to the post office, we saw a woman with mobility problems.  We sat in the car and watched her.  She used a cane and the door to get out.  Slid along the car to the trunk, got out a walker, then her package and slowly made it into the post office.  She carried her cane the whole way too.  We began to realize that no one watches the elderly and designs for their needs very much.
 
Mid season, one team mate cut open his foot and couldn’t walk for weeks.  He had to use all the devices we were testing out and get around school with his books.  That experience helped us understand things better too.
 
We spent a lot of time making many different mechanical prototypes and testing them.  We had two sets of senior mentors.  Three of our neighbors who were still living independently and the ‘gang’ at Sunrise Assisted Living.  Mary, the activities coordinator, was very helpful in stating problems she saw.  They were great and tried out our prototypes too.
How to make the OPS suit

Making your own OPS Suit to help you feel what it is like to be old is simple.  It takes about a day and costs about $200.  The jump suit ($50) is optional.

Materials you will need:
What                                    Amount                    Type/Brand                        What to Get                        Cost
Bicycle Helmet                        1                            Any                                     Bicycle Store                      $20
Ear Plugs                                 2                            Any                                     Pharmacy                            $2
Carabineers                            11                           Any                                    Sports Store or REI            $3
Neck Brace                              1                            Any                                    Pharmacy                            $10
Duck Tape                            1 Roll                        Any                                    Pharmacy or Art Store        $5
Exercise Bands                1 Box (6 yds)                 Allimed or Thera             Online or Pharmacy            $15
Clmbing Harness                    1                             Edelrid                              REI                                        $49
Yellow Safety Glasses            1                            Lego Education                Online                                   $2
Rubber Gloves                        2                            Any                                     Pharmacy                            $6
Elastic Bandages            3 box - 3” x 1.8 yds        Any                                  Pharmacy                            $6
Jump Suit                                1                            Rosies                                Online                                $50
Crocs (with backstrap)         1 pair                      Crocs                                Shoe Store                          $30
Upholstery Foam                1 1”-thick                   Any                                   Fabric Store                        $5
Silicone Wrist Bands               2                            Any                                    Pharmacy                            $1
Steps
  1. Step One
    Step One
    Start out by making the shoes uncertain by putting foam on the bottom of them.
  2. Step Two
    Step Two
    Trace out shoe sole on the 1-inch thick upholstery foam.
  3. Step Three
    Step Three
    Cut out the foam soles.
  4. Step Four
    Step Four
    Duck tape the front of the shoe to the base.
  1. Step Five
    Step Five
    Duck tape the back of the shoe to the base.
  2. Step Six
    Step Six
    Tape the front as well for extra support.
  3. Step Seven
    Step Seven
    Do the same steps for both shoes.
 
 
Now you are done with the shoes! 
 
 
 
Let's move onto the helmet that stimulates spinal compression! 
  1. Step Eight
    Step Eight
    Gather your helmet and two carabiners together.
  2. Step Nine
    Step Nine
    Click one carabiner to one of the helmets adjustment straps.
  3. Step Ten
    Step Ten
    Click the remaining carabiner to the other helmet adjustment strap.
  4. Step Eleven
    Step Eleven
    Gather four more carabiners to make the elastic bands for the helmet.
  1. Step Twelve
    Step Twelve
    Cut two pieces of yellow strength bands, each 13" long, and then put them through with 2" overlap.
  2. Step Thirteen
    Step Thirteen
    Tie the carabiners to either side of the strength band, with two inches of extra room on both sides.
  3. Step Fourteen
    Step Fourteen
    Tape the extra two inches on both sides to the band, to make it more secure.
  4. Step Fifteen
    Step Fifteen
    This is what it should look like when you are done! The elastic part should be about 9".
  1. Step Sixteen
    Step Sixteen
    Do it again, and then mark the duck tape on both "Helmet."
  2. Step Seventeen
    Step Seventeen
    Follow the same steps to create a third, but label this one "Arm Band."
  3. Step Eighteen
    Step Eighteen
    Use 3 carabiners to make the Y-shaped leg band. Each elastic is cut 20" long, and the distance between the knots is 16". Mark this the "Leg Band."
 
 
Now you are done with the helmet and bands!
 
 
 
Let's move onto the joint wraps!
  1. Step Nineteen
    Step Nineteen
    Cut each elastic band in half, to about 37" long. You should now have six pieces: one for each elbow, one for each wrist, and one for each knee.
  1. Step Twenty
    Step Twenty
    Watch the video below to see how to put everything together!
Other accessories:
 
Amber safety glasses - to make vision yellowed
 
Ear plugs - to make it harder to hear
 
Neck brace - to make it harder to twist your neck