“AGNES is not necessarily destiny, but it does offer users and observers the possibility of insight into their older selves.”
According to MIT News, MIT’s AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System) is a suit that allows the wearer to feel the feeling of suffering from some chronic diseases at the age of 80.
In the recent Disney+ documentary series “Chris Hemsworth’s Infinity,” the Australian actor gets hands-on with MIT’s AgeLab technology. He put on specially-fitting AGNES, took bungee jumpers, added 30 pounds, and wore Crocs that threw him off balance, resulting in what Hemsworth calls a “fashion disaster.”
Hemsworth then settled into a nursing home to experience life in his 80s. He even got an ID badge featuring his digital-age version of himself.
In the final episode of the series, titled “Accepted,” Hemsworth tries to overcome the obstacles posed by the lawsuit. Ultimately, he is confronted with a finite reality in which aging is inevitable.
At Sunset Pines, the nursing home Hemsworth has integrated into, everyone keeps telling him to “live every day to the fullest,” and that’s what the experiment was designed to teach him.
AGNES debuted in 2006 and appeared on the “The Try Guys” YouTube channel and before that on the PBS documentary “Fast Forward.”
While the device has been used for entertainment, AGNES is also valuable for understanding how people age and developing tools that may be useful for older adults. The MIT invention has been used to “inform the design of mass transit systems, retail environments, medical devices and product packaging,” according to MIT News.
AgeLab director Joe Coughlin told MIT that the purpose of AGNES has changed over time.
“It started with the neck brace and the elastic, which we used to better understand the challenges of getting in and out of the car for older users,” Coughlin said. “Today, we use AGNES to allow researchers and students to experience the friction, frustration and fatigue that older adults often experience.”
Coughlin added that AGNES may not show users their “destiny,” but she can gain insight into who they will become.
“This is our chance to imagine the future today so we might have better lives tomorrow,” Coughlin said.
The show premiered on Disney+ in November.
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