The Bodysuit Car Designers Wear to Feel Old

 Friedrich Stark, Alamy
Friedrich Stark, Alamy

More than 46 million Americans are over the age of 65. (By 2060, that number is expected to double.) Meanwhile, in Europe, more than a quarter of the continent’s population has already reached what some British folks like to call “the third age.”

In the 1990s, Ford Motor Company saw this coming: As demographics changed, so too would the wants and desires of most car-buyers. In other words, Ford would have to start making vehicles that were more suitable for older drivers.

There was just one problem. “The majority of engineers and designers were—and still are—young people who find it difficult to imagine living with some of the limitations older drivers face,” Mike Bradley, a former ergonomics researcher at Ford, told the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

The car manufacturer’s solution? A bodysuit that puts young designers inside the skin of older drivers.

Developed by the Transport Technology and Ergonomics Centre (Ergonomics and Safety Research Unit) at England's Loughborough University, the Third Age Simulation Suit is said to add 30 years to anybody who wears it. A heavy vest simulates a weakened back. A neck brace hinders head movement. Joints are stiffened, inflexible gloves mimic arthritis, and a small electrical device causes uncontrollable trembles. It also comes with noise-dampening earphones and glasses that distort eyesight, mimicking the symptoms of glaucoma and cataracts.

“It’s really about inclusive design,” Katie Allanson, an ergonomist at Ford, recently told Chris Zelkovich of The Globe and Mail. “If you’re an able-bodied person, you don’t think about these issues—simple things like getting in and out of the vehicle and being able to grab the door handle.” The gloves, for example, can make it more difficult to adjust the radio. The noise-reducing headphones can muffle the chimes of the vehicle’s alert system. The goggles can reveal just how bad a windshield's glare may be.

Indeed, for many designers, donning the suit can be illuminating—and it has led to changes, big and small: improved seat belts that are easier to find and fasten; new alert systems that allow drivers to know when they’re drifting out of the lane; wider and taller front doors; easier-to-open trunks; and even the near-ubiquitous rear view camera. The first vehicle to benefit from designers wearing the garment? The Ford Focus.

You can view a Third Age Simulation Suit in the design section of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland.

22 Whimsical Clear Phone Cases That Let You Show Off Your Favorite Art

Society6
Society6

It seems like Society6 is constantly coming up with more and more products that you can get emblazoned with your favorite artists' work. From notebooks to shower curtains, we're getting to a point where an entire apartment can be covered in artful sloths. And so can your phone.

The art print site's clear iPhone cases are transparent and incorporate the look of the phone underneath into the design. Often, the patterns look like stickers, but with the advantage of never peeling. The protective cases come in two versions: slim (a frosted plastic case) or tough (a two-piece, impact resistant case) and are available for $36 for iPhone 6 and later.

We collected all our favorite designs to give you a quick look at what's available.

1. WITCHCRAFT

2. BANANA!!

3. MY SLEEPY PET

4. FRIDA KAHLO

5. PUG YOGA

6. UNICORN LAND

7. NATURE WALKS

8. SNEAKY CAT

9. CACTUS OUTFIT

10. FLY ME TO THE MOON

11. GOLDEN CELESTIAL BUGS

12. HAMMERHEADS

13. I SHOW YOU THE STARS

14. FOR THE TREES

15. SKELETON

16. GREEN AND BLACK GARDEN WITH RED FLOWERS

17. CAT'S EYES

18. BABY AXOLOTL

19. SOLAR SYSTEM

20. BEAR GARDEN

21. TRICKSTERS

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

A version of this story first ran in 2017. It has been updated to reflect current availabilty.

Boston-Area Students Convince their City to Install 3D Crosswalks

iStock.com/olaser
iStock.com/olaser

Motorists driving through Medford, Massachusetts may notice something unusual on the street outside Brooks Elementary School. On April 22, the city installed a new pedestrian crosswalk painted to look like 3D objects raised from the ground. The new crossing path aims to make the intersection safer, and it's one of several set to debut around Medford, Curbed reports.

By painting additional, shaded shapes around the traditional white strips of a crosswalk, the city was able to create an optical illusion for drivers. From far away, the flat shapes look like blocks in the middle of the street. The effect is meant to make drivers slow down before they reach the crossing, and to make them more alert to pedestrians in the area.

Two students—a fourth- and a fifth-grader—worked with their teacher and the Brooks Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility to convince the city to add the safety feature. The 3D walkway, designed by Boston artist Nate Swain, will be painted outside three other elementary schools in the city.

Medford is the first city in the Boston area to experiment with 3D crosswalks, but the illusion has been used for years in other parts of the world. In 2016, Shakuntala Pandya and her daughter Saumya Pandya Thakkar designed their own version of the blocks for a highway in Ahmedabad, India, and in Chicago, the crosswalks have been around for nearly a decade.

[h/t Curbed]

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