Until he was 17 years old, Mr Javier Chan lived with his grandmother.
During that time, he noticed that the elderly woman had trouble getting around the house and wondered what it felt like to be old.
Said Mr Chan, now 19: "She always complained that it's difficult for her to get out of bed.
"I felt for her, even though I couldn't feel what she was going through."
So, together with three of his coursemates, the final-year aeronautical engineering student at Singapore Polytechnic designed what they call the Silver Suit.
The suit gives the wearer a taste of what it is like to be old by simulating the ageing effects of the body.
Gas springs in the lower region of the suit restrict the wearer's leg movements, making it difficult to walk.
Resistance bands also help mimic the stiff elbows and shoulders of the elderly, while an actuator on the back of the suit forces the wearer into a hunchback position by pushing his back forward.
Mr Chan said: "After wearing the suit, I can better understand what my grandma experiences every day."
Creating the Silver Suit, which took nine months, was not all smooth sailing.
"The manufacturing of the suit was very difficult. Even 0.01mm made a big difference in the end product."
But Mr Chan believes the hard work is worth the effort.
"With this suit, hopefully young people can better understand the challenges faced by the old folk in their daily life."
This article was first published on January 23, 2015.
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