Experiencing aging: Analogue versus virtual

Deana McDonagh, Debra Reardanz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The aim of this chapter is to discuss and compare the impact of an aging suit compared to the virtual experience of aging with the goal of expanding a person’s understanding and felt experience of aging. The authors are both immersed within the area of aging and disability, with one focusing on physical simulations, while the other has adopted virtual simulations to support the development of empathic understanding for others. This chapter shares the experience of each author as they immerse themselves into the simulation currently favoured by the other, so that they can compare both the physical and the virtual from the perspective of the felt experience. Felt experience refers to the personal understanding gained when experiencing the experience of another person’s experience. As our demographics are shifting towards a population of elders, and disability is no longer perceived to be a barrier to quality of life, it becomes the responsibility of developers of services and products to ensure that they understand real people, to ensure that real solutions are offered. On a cognitive level the average person can begin to appreciate how aging and disability could impact another person, however, the authors would profess that until you have dived deeper into that person’s reality (physically or virtually) your understanding is limited. It is argued that experiencing the experience of another person triggers reflection, repositioning of worldviews and a deeper sensitivity than would have been possible before the physical and/or virtual experience. While this approach does not replace the process of aging for individuals, it does provide a valuable tool in the researcher’s blended research tool kit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIntelligent Systems Reference Library
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameIntelligent Systems Reference Library
ISSN (Print)1868-4394
ISSN (Electronic)1868-4408


  • Aging
  • Empathy
  • End of life
  • Experience
  • Gerontology suit
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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