You often hear, “put yourself in my shoes and then you’ll know how it feels like”. While it is true that you’ve got to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to truly understand what she or he feels like, integrating this philosophy into a vehicle designing system increases the complexity manyfold. Then, there’s the job of a vehicle designer that involves so many variables, so much so it really takes a pinch of genius to design something that fits all.
To produce better designed vehicles, automakers are on the highway of constant innovation. Simulators that replicate real life conditions that designers would otherwise not experience are a part of the multitude of modern systems that go into designing a well rounder automobile. One of the foremost automotive companies of the world, Ford Motor Company, has built a trio of suits that let a vehicle designer experience three scenarios – On how it feels like to be pregnant, elderly and drunk.
The suit that simulates pregnancy is aptly called the Empathy Belly is a jacket that has artificial breasts built in, two 3.4 kilogram lead balls that simulate the kicking of foetal limbs, a rib belt that constricts the lungs to simulate shortness of breath, a five kilogram belly to bring the additional weight of the foetus aboard and finally, a 2.7 kilogram bladder pouch that simulates the foetus resting the head on the bladder. Here’s a video that gives you a better picture.
On a similar note, the Third Age Suit, as Ford calls the apparatus that simulates old age, gives engineers and designers an actual feel of what the autumn of one’s life feels like. The suit comes with a myriad range of features that make the mobility of various parts of the body restricted, along with the dulling of senses such as hearing and vision. The third age suit even features glasses that actually simulate old age vision conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts. The video that follows will give you a ringside view of what Ford is doing to build cars that fits even the elderly like the glove.
Never mix your drink with your drive and this adage is as established as the wheel itself. However, driving under the influence of alcohol is an issue that causes scores of fatalities across the globe. To allow the general public to get a feel of how their bodily functions become less responsive after a drink or two, Ford has designed the “Drunk Driving Simulator Suit”, which like the Third Age Suit impedes regular body movements and dulls the senses. This suit will be used by Ford and other stakeholders to create awareness as to why drinking and driving should never be mixed.