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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ford's 'Third Age' suit


Good to see that Ford is taking the needs of the ageing population seriously – well it is saying that is is taking it seriously.

This might have something to do with the fact that the average American household purchases 13 cars over a lifetime — and seven of those are purchased after the head of the household turns 50.

Ford claims to be the only car manufacturer that uses some sort of "third-age suit" (their words) that gives younger engineers and designers a feel for the needs of older people.

This looks very similar to the MIT Age Lab suit that adds bulk and restrict movement at key areas of the body (e.g., knees, elbows, back and neck). The suit also uses gloves that reduce the sense of touch, and goggles that simulate cataracts.
As part of its alliance with Boeing, Ford and Boeing engineers are researching ways to provide more user-friendly interiors for automobiles and airplanes. I have to say I haven’t seen much sign that that relationship has resulted in much change.

Apparently Ford has another suit, the "empathy belly," helps engineers understand the needs and potential restrictions of pregnant women. When I first read this I thought it was simulate the needs of the obsese.
Anyway, well done Ford, at least you are making an effort to design taking into the account physiological ageing. Now, I wonder if you are also taking into account the effects of ageing on the other touchpoints that you have with your customers? Dick Stroud

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