Futuristic suit allows wearer to experience extreme aging at new exhibit

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- An exhibit making it's east coast debut at the Liberty Science Center lets you feel what it's like to be 80 years old.

A futuristic suit that looks like something out of "Iron Man" worn by visitors is actually a bulky exoskeleton that lets users age up to 40 years in an instant.

Engineers take about 15 minutes to tighten the suit and hook the user up a heart rate monitor, and the 40-pound, stiff suit simulates weight gain and muscle loss.

Scientists from Applied Minds programs have created Visionware to simulate macular degeneration and cataracts, and it's awkward even to shake hands.

Besides causing vision impairment, the suit can also weaken hearing ability. Heart rate and other functioned are measured while visitors in the suit try to perform simple tasks.

The information is displayed in real time, while the volunteer shares out loud the alarming responses of what he or she feels.

The aim of the program is to start a dialogue regarding the true effects of aging, and the Liberty scientists believe that this "wow" experience is what can change behavior.

Empathy and early detection, along with financial planning, are critical aging topics for families.

The good news is that these scientists are also working to find ways to restore youth.

"The technology we are using to show the effects of aging are the same things that will be developed to help reverse the effects of aging," Applied Minds Chief Creative Officer Bran Ferren said.

The Genworth Aging Experience will be at Liberty Science Center until April 10.
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