Nissan Engineers use Special Suit to Simulate the Elderly

 Nissan Engineers use Special Suit to Simulate the Elderly
Nissan elderly aging simulation suit

Looks like a Skateboarder

Nissan are hoping that their innovative new suit will help them capitalise on the baby boomer generation. Concerned that the baby boomers will be taking a bigger share of the automotive sales over the coming 20 years, Nissan have realised that the baby boomer car user’s needs may well be different to their younger equivalents.

The suit is designed to simulate the effects of physical ageing. By adorning the suit, a 25 yr old engineer can get an insight into what it must be like for someone forty or fifty years his senior.

There is a huge amount of research that goes into studying the ergonomics of a vehicle interior. Seat position, steering wheel height and gear shift location are all interlinked and must be specifically designed for all body sizes and types. Even secondary switchgear and the instruments must be designed so that they are easy to use and are legible. Often the constraints of the elderly are overlooked in this crucial stage of the cars design and the Nissan engineers are keen to reverse this.

The suit limits physical movement of the limbs which makes it more difficult for the engineer to get inside the car and to operate the controls. Special goggles are worn to simulate worsening eyesight which tests the designs for secondary control placement and legibility of the markings on switches.

Car manufacturers are well aware of what vehicle works for certain buying groups, and who buys what vehicle. For instance, it is often found that smaller cars are bought by women and large pick ups and sedans are more often bought by men. Does this now mean we have a third dynamic added to the equation? Cars for the over 50’s anyone?

Source: Nissan
Published Feb 25, 2008 3:49 pm By Grant Edwardson
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Nissan Engineers use Special Suit to Simulate the Elderly

Nissan's 'Perfect Fit' For Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are commanding a bigger share of automotive sales worldwide and Nissan is meeting their needs with some lateral thinking.

Nissan engineers in Japan are using a special 'suit' that simulates the physical effects of ageing. It allows engineers and designers to see car ownership through the eyes of older customers and then alter features to accommodate special needs.

Nissan Design Engineer Etsuhiro Watanabe said, "As we get older, it can become harder to perform physical maneuvers. When it comes to driving, that can mean more difficulty seeing writing on the switch gear, reach and use controls, distinguish colors on navigation equipment or get in and out of seats.

Mr Watanabe said many engineers were in their 20s and 30s and the suits provided an accurate reflection of the daily physical challenges not necessarily experienced by young drivers.

"It's not always practical to recruit older motorists for product research," he said, "so these special suits allow Nissan's engineers and designers to come up with solutions that make car use a safer and more positive experience."

"This is a critical part of our vehicle research and shows Nissan is alert to the changing needs of drivers and at the leading edge of vehicle development."

The suits can simulate poor balance through a raised front-toe design, cataract goggles simulate failing eyesight, casts on the body simulate arthritic pain by making it more difficult to raise arms and legs, and color-deficiency goggles simulate problems distinguishing colors.

Nissan engineers wearing the suits have been experimenting with the location and angles of switches, testing the ease of reading instrument and navigation panels and determining where to locate grips to make it easier to get in and out of a vehicle.

The suits are being used by engineers at the Nissan Technology Center (NTC) outside Tokyo. Work at the Centre accelerates research and advances the engineering of breakthrough technologies for Nissan's next generation of products.

One feature of the suit is a thick waist-belt. About 250 mm wide and 50 mm thick it does an excellent job of duplicating what is euphemistically known as the 'middle aged spread'. The belt makes it harder to enter or exit a car and can even cramp an engineer's movement behind the steering wheel in poorly designed seating.

The special suit also stiffens the engineers' flexibility, particularly with later-in-life susceptible knees and ankles. Restrictions are also created at the elbows using a complex system of levers. Checking on neck movement is also important as it can influence how well a driver is able to use the door mirrors and how easy - or difficult - it is to look back whilst reversing.

Naturally, the research suits also give an insight into problems faced by partially disabled drivers of any age.

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Comments (6)

hey, BTW what car is that? is a new interior quest? becuase it sure does look it
Feb 26, 2008 5:59 am
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ya, they need that because old people are so hard to come by - I have this crazy idea, why don't they use REAL old people. noooo, lets spend hundreds of thousands of dollars developing an old person suit! LMFAO!!
Feb 26, 2008 5:35 am
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Old people doesn't all have the same competence as Nissan-trained engineers, of course they would have preferred to take old people on, but they couldn't for that reason.
Feb 26, 2008 7:30 pm
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wait, isnt that german_car_fan??
Feb 26, 2008 1:50 am
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lol ford did the same aprox. 5-6 years ago:D i remember an article in autobild where the author dressed that "suit"
Feb 25, 2008 10:12 pm
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Nissan won't be the last...
Feb 25, 2008 9:37 pm
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