How about adding 30 years to your existing age in a matter of minutes? Not talking about a time machine from a sci-fi movie- but Ford did manage to make me feel like a sexagenarian when I stepped into their stall at the 2014 Autocar Performance Show in Mumbai.
This exercise wasn’t aimed at thrill or to empathize with the old (though I did still ended up empathizing), but to showcase the medical accuracy of these suits that aids the Ford’s global engineering team with deepest insights into the customers’ life; particularly the ones who need the greatest empathy of all: pregnant women and elderly that include:
Third Age Suits which have been specially designed to significantly reduce mobility when worn, providing Ford engineers and designers more empathy for the needs of older people and help them design vehicles that are comfortable and easy to use for both young and old.
Here’s a video for demonstration:
Pregnancy Stimulator, or the Empathy Belly that Ford calls it, allows the company’s engineers to experience what it feels like to be pregnant, to find out what are the restrictions in the movement and then to get that empathy to help them design the structure of the car.
A demo video here:
Drunk Driving Simulator Suit that is designed to mimic the effects of drinking. While we’re aware of the dangers of drunken driving, people often tend to brush it aside when it comes to the real situation. With this suit and the devices it comes with, the effects of being under the influence of alcohol can be experienced and the awareness of not mixing drinking and driving can be spread.
Out of these three, I was strapped on with the Third Age Simulation suit and made to move around the car, enter, exit and use the in-car controls with the restriction of movement that the suit managed to inflict. And though it wasn’t a very comfortable feeling being constrained in my usual movements, the two cars on display i.e. the Ford Ecosport and the new Ford Fiesta showcased the ease and convenience of operation even with the simulation suit on.
At my age, I never gave a thought to these parameters and was indeed an eye opening moment. It was indeed good to know that engineers not only design cars just for performance and efficiency but also emphasizing on the comfort and convenience of our beloved ones who need that extra bit of care at times.