Age Simulation Theory and Methods

SD&C celebrates 20th company birthday – new CEO

Since 20 years now SD&C is offering age simulation to the public. While SD&C has not been the first to try such a simulation, SD&C can be said to be the first company to offer age simulation to the public. This has taken place in Munich in 2003 during an open street festival.

It all began when the founder Dr. Schoeffel started his own business, after having left Siemens with a first version of an age simulation suit in his package. Being a highly qualified specialist for ergonomics, his business concept for SD&C included offering ergonomics consulting with a special emphasis on the ever growing population of the elderly in Europe. Dr. Schoeffel has been heading the international standardization group with special focus on usability for the elderly (ISO 20282) and has headed the usability concepts for the elderly within the Siemens home appliances branch.

In many fields in the last 20 years, SD&C age simulation has contributed to usability improvements for the elderly. E.g. cars now offer camera systems to help the elderly drive backwards; hearing aids turned from ugly devices to precious little helpers able to directly take phone calls; packages have opening indicators (which also help the younger ones); and many countries use the ISO tests to ensure that public vending machines are good for the elderly as well.

Nevertheless, the request for age simulation has developed in its own directions, and after ergonomic consulting workshops, SD&C started to build and sell the requested age simulation suits, and soon they also could be rented in Germany and Austria.

Knowing the functional decrease ratios when ageing, SD&C soon began to invest into research on better realizing them in the simulation gadgets. While the first simulation suits were not for sale, several outstanding developments were realized (and patented) in the later simulation suits. And while others tried to take advantage of this as business opportunity, academic tests on the way proved that SD&C was leading in realism and design. Concentrating on the real biological aging process rather than simulating all sorts of geriatric phenomena, SD&C age simulation suits were named Senior Suits.

The SD&C Senior Suits have won a lot of friends in many fields. The medical community embraced age simulation especially, many doctors and nurses now become trained with the SD&C Senior Suits suits. Wherever research is conducted including aspects of the elderly, the SD&C Senior Suits can be found in many universities on this planet. Moreover the simulation suits are widely used by architects and township planners to ensure barrier free design.

20 years are a long time, and now a new generation takes over. Since the start of 2023, Rene Schoeffel, the son of the founder, has become the new CEO of SD&C. The founder of SD&C, now 71 of age, will still help – as long as the technology stays usable for him.

M.Sc. Rene C. Schoeffel, the new CEO of SD&C- the new master of the SD&C Senior Suits
M.Sc. Rene C. Schoeffel
Age Simulation Theory and Methods, Products and Progress, Senior Suit Beta

New Senior Suit Beta 3 now available

After internal tests over the entire year 2017 with more than 100 test persons, SD&C is now offering the new Senior Suit Beta 3. The Beta 3 uses a part of the patented Senior Suit Delta, and it has a significantly improved simulation of the movement restrictions in higher years of age. The Beta 3 can be recognized by the black stripes on the sides.

A realistic simulation of the deteriorated movability of the arms and legs in older years is not easy, as the reachable movement angles of the elderly do not differ much from the angles that the younger ones achieve. It is the overall movement, that becomes more difficult in higher years because of arteriosclerotic changes and a shortening and hardening of the muscle tendons.

The first age suits wrongly restricted the movement angles, and some age suits on the market still do. Later age suits were using orthopedic bandages, but these rather have a medical warming and holding effect and do not stiffen sufficiently. In addition, they tend to leave their places or they are not on the right anthropometric positions when built into an age suit. However, most age suits available today use orthopedic bandages only.

SD&C solves this problem by using special restricting bandages with built in stiffening elements. These special bandages can be attached to the anthropometric correct positions by using the fixation system of the Senior Suit Delta.

The technical question was, whether the somewhat reduced system from the Delta would still hold the considerable forces when using the age suit on a typical parcours. Thus tests were conducted. The result was, that the special bandages hold, and the improved effect has received a lot of positive feedback. So now everybody may try it out.

Together with the other high quality realistic simulation elements, like the two stages simulation optics and the hearing deterioration with an electronic tinnitus, the SD&C Senior Suit Beta 3 is intended to establish a worldwide standard on old age simulation based on the human abilities as declared in the International Standard ISO 20282.

Age Simulation Theory and Methods, Application in Organisations

Barrierefreier Nahverkehr

Barrierefreier Nahverkehr. Der Nahverkehrsverbund Schleswig-Holstein NAH.SH hat im August zum zweiten Mal einen Alterssimulationsanzug eingesetzt, um die Barrierefreiheit für die Benutzer seiner Verkehrsmittel sicherzustellen. Zu dem Verbund zählen nicht nur Busse, Bahnen und auch Schiffe, die über die Kieler Förde hinweg Stationen verbinden. Die Ergebnisse finden sich in einem gut gemachten 14-seitigen Magazin für Mobilität wieder, dessen Ausgabe für den Sommer 2015 der Alterssimulation mit unserem SD&C Senior Suit gewidmet ist. Man wollte wieder “ein besseres Gefühl dafür bekommen, an welchen Stellen wir den Nahverkehr für Menschen in fortgeschrittenem Alter oder mit körperlichen Einschränkungen attraktiver machen können.” Die Fahrkartenautomaten und die ausgehängten Fahrpläne der Bundesbahn erwiesen sich noch als schwierig, während an anderen Stellen inzwischen Verbesserungen zu spüren waren. So erleichtern moderne Züge und die Niederflurbusse jetzt deutlich den Einstieg, und 60% der Haltestationen sind jetzt barrierefrei.

SD&C Senior Suit Alpha auf dem Kieler Hauptbahnhof
SD&C Senior Suit Alpha auf dem Kieler Hauptbahnhof (mit freundl. Genehmigung von NAH.SH)

Barrier-free public transport. The public transport authority NAH.SH of Germany’s most northern country Schleswig-Holstein has for the second time used an age simulation suit to ensure barrier-free use of transportation. The public transport includes trains, busses and also ships connecting stations around the fjord of Kiel. The results are publishes in a well-made magazine of 14 pages, that shows in it’s issue for summer 2015 the simulation using the SD&C Senior Suit Alpha. The intention was to get a better feeling about where there remain possibilities for improvements for the elderly or for those with physical impairments. The ticket vending machines and the time tables were still showing problems, while there were overall improvements. The modern busses with lowering floors improve access and 60% of the stations are now barrier-free.

Age Simulation Theory and Methods, Old Age Biology, Senior Suit Delta

Age Simulation and Sample Size

Prof. Dr. Simone Besemer and Prof. Dr. Simon Ottler from the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg in Ravensburg visited SD&C in the north of Munich to inspect and evaluate  the Senior Suit Delta.

Prof. Dr. Simone Besemer und Prof. Dr. Simon Ottler zu Besuch bei SD&C
Prof. Dr. Simone Besemer and Prof. Dr. Simon Ottler visiting SD&C

Despite their difference in their size, the age simulation suit fitted both professors, and a weight adjustment on one suit was quickly done. The tinnitus simulation impressed them, because the knew well that many people suffer from it. There were glad to be able to switch these sounds off again. The cervical collar significantly limited the mobility of their heads, and with regard to the elbow joints, a light wrapping of the bandages was sufficient, and both were almost not able to reach up to their own hairs. The simple variants of gloves produced a realistic and not exaggerated reduction of the sense of touch. As usual, visual performance was compared using font sizes on an opticians sheet. Without the simulation, the smallest font (1) could be read by both professors, with the optic’s visor folded down, both needed size (5) to (7). By carrying an empty crate of bottles over stairs, the visitors were able to experience themselves the effects of the reduced strength, and when throwing darts, to experience the effects of age simulation on coordination. Counting money in the simulation suit was of the practical importance, and when sitting in a vehicle, several restrictions were quickly noticed, such as a difficulty to reach for the seat belt.

The interesting question of the minimum size of a sample for market analyses was discussed. ISO 20282 requires a minimum size of 20 persons for usability tests, but recommends 50 or more. This also corresponds to the SD&C-known general industrial standard of meaningful tests in product development, although purely explorative studies sometimes want to get by with only three test subjects. For age simulation a study exists, in which 20 younger test persons in suits were compared with 20 real older test persons in numerous operations, and the results were consistent. An age simulation suit is thus a valid research instrument for demographic change. With the age simulation suit, the university ordered, students at universities will be able to investigate how Germany and Europe can be prepared for the rapidly approaching time when every second person in the country will be over 50 years old.

Age Simulation Theory and Methods

New Tinnitus-Headset for Age Simulation

Tinnitus has become a widely spread illness. Some studies claim that half of all people over 50 years of age experience these unwanted ear sounds. Therefore SD&C has decided to include the phenomenon of tinnitus in the company’s catalogue of instant aging. SD&C does now offer a cordless tinnitus headset that allows the experience of eight different tinnitus sounds. These sounds were rebuilt as a simulation with the help of those suffering from the illness. The different tinnitus sounds can be selected by a display in one side of the headset. Changing loudness allows the linear simulation of normal hearing loss with the ageing process. The tinnitus-II-headsets will be included in future deliveries of the SD&C Senior Suit Delta, however can also be ordered separately.

SD&C Tinnitus-Kopfhörer für die Alterssimulation SD&C Tinnitus-Headset with 8 integrated different tinnitus sound simulations.

Age Simulation Theory and Methods, Products and Progress

Doktorarbeit bewertet Alterssimulationsanzug von SD&C als besten Benchmark

Dr. Christian Scherf hat in seiner Dissertationsschrift über die Entwicklung des Alterssimulationsanzuges MAX der Volkswagen AG Simulationsanzüge von Ford, Duke, SD&C und das Set LM-060 der japanischen Koken Corporation als Benchmark verglichen und dem SD&C Modell 2007 mit 9 Punkten die beste Bewertung für Realität, Modularität, Universalität, Design und Schnelligkeit gegeben, gefolgt von 6 Punkten für Duke, 5 Punkten für Ford und 4 Punkten für das japanische Set.

Scherf verglich in einem Experiment die Montagearbeit von 18 durchschnittlich Fünfundzwanzigjährigen im Alterssimulationsanzug mit der von 10 durchschnittlich Fünfundfünfzigjährigen und stellte fest, dass der Simulationsanzug die Arbeitsleistung der Jüngeren ziemlich genau (um 21,5 %) auf das Niveau der Älteren verringerte. Scherf resümiert, dass die Alterssimulation mehr ist  als ein einfaches Sensibilisierungstool, sondern sie ist “ein wirkunsgvolles Instrument, um gezielt alterskritische Montagetätigkeiten zu identifizieren.” Er schreibt, dass “die Alterssimulation wesentliche Vorteile gegenüber Nutzertests und Studien hat. Die Vorteile liegen in der direkten Abbildung der Zielgruppe, den prozess- und produktbezogenen Informationen, einer hohen Abbildungsgenauigkeit sowie den vertretbaren Kosten.”

Bei SD&C schließen dIe firmeninternen Benchmarks weitere Kriterien wie Hygiene mit ein, und die Bewertung der Realitätsnähe erfolgt für jede Einschränkung separat. Auch das neue SD&C Modell von 2014, der SD&C Senior Suit Delta 2, positioniert sich heute nach diesen Kriterien im internationalen Wettbewerb vorn. Eine neue Simulationsoptik ersetzt hier die Simulation der Sehunschärfe als Grauen Star und den Visusverlust per Folie, und die Beweglichkeitseinschränkungen sehen nunmehr von der Simulation einer Bewegungseinschränkung von nur 10° ab und simulieren stattdessen eine arthritische Beweglichkeitseinschränkung über den ganzen Bewegungsweg, wie in einem kürzlich veröffentlichten Artikel deutlicher dargelegt wird. Die von Scherf vorgelegte Doktorarbeit zur Alterssimulation ist die vierte Dissertation zum Thema und ein wertvoller Beitrag, der sich als ingenieurtechnisch saubere Konstruktion eines Simulationsanzuges und ergonomisch wertvoller experimenteller Vergleich der Gesamtwirkung bei Monatgearbeiten auszeichnet.

Der SD&C Age Suit Modell 2007 im Einsatz
Der SD&C Age Suit Modell 2007 im Einsatz

Age Simulation Theory and Methods, Fabrication, Old Age Biology, Products and Progress

Age Simulation Optics tested successfully

Qualitätstest der SD&C Alterssimulationsoptik
Qualitätstest der SD&C Alterssimulationsoptik

The SD&C age simulation optics have been tested with success. The test also demonstrates how SD&C is developing age simulation devices and tests them for quality. Visual acuaty can be tested with standardized text lines of different height, ranging from minimal “1” to very large “7”. Student Rene is 22 years old, but when using the SD&C simulation optics, he needs lines of size number “6”, just as people do, who are 40 years older, i.e. 62 years old. Without the simulation optics Rene is able to read the smallest lines size “1”.

Age Simulation Theory and Methods, Senior Suit Alpha

Instructions of use for the SD&C Senior Suit ® Alpha

The SD&C Senior Suit allows sensitization for the effects of ageing. The simulation restricts itself to the normal biological ageing process, while geriatric diseases are excluded purposefully. The simulation includes the main effects of normal ageing, as there are: less force, less movability, and deteriorated sensory detection concerning vision, hearing, and the tactile sense.

The SD&C Senior Suit includes the following parts:

  • 1 simulation goggle
  • 1 set of ear muffs
  • 1 neck brace
  • 1 jump suit
  • 1 special simulation vest with nine weights
  • 2 wrist weights
  • 2 ankle weights
  • 2 elbow bandages
  • 2 knee bandages
  • 1 pair of white gloves
  • 1 pair of wrist protectors
  • 1 instructions
  • 1 trolley carrying case

Dress up procedure

Selection of test persons. The simulation will add about 30 to 40 years of age onto the present age of a person, depending on the individual fitness. Not everybody is suitable to try this. The age of the test person should be between 15 and 60 years. Elder persons may try the simulation suit only, if they are sufficiently fit. Persons with deteriorated health, weak and pregnant persons should not try the simulation. The simulation should also not be applied to children, if their musculoskeletal system is not fully grown yet. The smaller ones normally are happily satisfied if they get the ear muffs on and are allowed to take a look through the goggles. Over the age span between 15 and 25 years of age, the simulation has a slightly stronger effect regarding physical force while having less effect regarding movability and sensory limitation.

Attention: Nobody must be shocked, depressed, or traumatized with age simulation!

  1. Dressing up starts with putting on the jump suit. Jackets and pullovers should be dressed off and laid aside, shoes should be taken off. The jump suit is used to protect the clothes and to improve hygiene. The size of the jump suit is adjusted by turning over the sleeves as needed.
  2. The special vest is put on and the nine weights are fitted into the pockets. The additional weight gives the test person a first experience of what an additional weight means for the body, as with overweight. For weaker than average persons weight pockets may be left empty. In addition to the weight on the chest, the side strips at both sides of the vest may now be used to further squeeze the upper body simulating breathing difficulties.
  3. Now the knee bandages are put on (four buttons with model Beta, 2 connectors with model Alpha). The knee-bandages simulate reduced movability. The model Beta knee bandages allow different levels of restriction, however only light restriction should be applied to be realistic. It is possible to put the bandages on while a person stands, but it is also possible to do so with a seated person stretching out the leg for the procedure. If a deep camping chair without arm rests is used, the person will later be surprized how hard it is to put on the shoes again and to get up.
  4. The elbow bandages are put on next (Three buttons with model Beta, 1 connector with model Alpha). The bandages simulate deteriorated movability. The bandages are put on while the arm is stretched out. They should be put on with close contact to the body, but should not be fastened too much. Reaching over the head will be more difficult now, but should not be impossible.
  5. The heavier pair of weights are now attached above the ankles, but must still allow wearing shoes. These weights simulate the reduced strength of the legs. Together with the weights in the simulation vest, the effect can be best demonstrated when walking up stairs.
  6. The test person now receives the gloves to put them on himself. The gloves simulate the reduced tactile sense. E.g. unpacking medication is becoming harder now.
  7. The short and fingerless wrist protectors can be put on to simulate stiffer fingers (basilar bones of the hand).
  8. Now the less heavy pair of weights are stripped around the lower part of the arms. It should be taken care that a wrist watch does not hurt the test person. Together with the reduced arm movability the test persons can now experience how much more difficult it is to reach out and grip things needed.
  9. The neck brace is put around the neck of the test person with the opening to the back. This limits the degrees the head can turn sideways, thus also limiting the field of vision.
  10. The test person now receives the goggles to put on himself. The test persons own pairs of fragile glasses should be put aside to a safe place, while the goggles can be put over stable glasses. The goggle with model Alpha simulates three effects, the peripheral limitation of the field of vision, a more blurred vision, and a change in colour vision. With model Beta there is a simulation optics simulating these three effects more exactly and in addition also two more effects, a light macular degeneration and an increaded need for illumination. Here there are two stages each adding 20 years of age with a vizier. It should be started with only 20 years of ageing, i.e. the vizier should be up.
  11. Now the ear muffs are put on. With increasing age hearing deteriorates, especially higher frequencies are no longer heard by the elderly.
  12. The dressing process is now completed, and now small tasks can be given that demonstrate the effects of being old, e.g. putting on shoes with laces, walking stairs, reading infos on medication, opening packages, operating a cell phone or a hearing aid, getting a certain amount of money to pay out of a purse. Tasks with liquids and task which make the simulation suit dirty should be avoided.

Every person in the simulation suit must be accompanied for safety! The fast process of ageing without the normal years of time for adjustment can lead to dizziness and faltering!

When using the age simulation suit for several days, the overall, the gloves and the neck brace should be washed at the end of every day. The overall and the gloves are machine washable, the neck brace should be hand washed. If necessary also the vest can be machine washed and the bandages can be hand washed. The remaining components can be cleaned with a hygienic towel.