Age simulator for kitchen planning

6 minutes


Blum researchers have been investigating the needs of kitchen and furniture users around the world for years. Research insights are incorporated in the development of new products. One special method of research is to use an age simulation suit: wearers feel age-related limitations within seconds of donning the suit. We spoke to Sandra Boehler from Blum's Requirements Research Department and asked her to explain how the suit works and what can be learnt from it.


Laying the table, unloading the dishwasher, preparing a meal. The scenario in Julius Blum GmbH's kitchen lab is the same as in any private kitchen. Aside from the cameras that capture the test subjects performing daily activities. 'We invite guests from outside the company or employees from other departments to use our test kitchen,' says Sandra Boehler from Blum's Requirements Research Department. The participants use product prototypes while cooking an ordinary meal and then report on their experiences. They provide valuable insights on how to improve products.

'The test subjects often spend the whole week with us to get used to the product being tested.'

Cooking in a suit

Things get really interesting when the AgeExplorer® comes into play. Participants test the products while wearing the age simulation suit which allows them to feel the effects of aging, such as difficulties with mobility, muscle fatigue, limited field of vision and altered perception of colour. Sandra Boehler experienced the latter herself. 'I tried to bake a cake wearing the AgeExplorer®. I couldn't see whether it was golden-brown and cooked or whether it was still raw inside.'

Worldwide research into users' needs

Sandra Boehler doesn't only test kitchen solutions. The functionality of Blum's latest developments is now being tested in all areas of the home. 'We're interested in kitchen users' needs in all living areas and in all our markets. To this end, we regularly travel to different countries around the world and observe how our product ideas are implemented on site.' Manufacturers, cabinet makers and furniture fitters are also invited to share their expertise. All these efforts allow the company to constantly come up with new product ideas.


Dress code: AgeExplorer®

But let's go back to the instant aging suit. The suit is used worldwide not only by product developers but also for ongoing education and training, e.g. in the health and care sector. The idea is to allow participants to step into old age and feel what it's like to struggle with the simplest tasks. This will help to create a better understanding for older persons and the difficulties they endure every day.

'After wearing the AgeExplorer® for about an hour you're absolutely exhausted and glad to get it off again.'

Recognising the needs of the future

What are the benefits of research into requirements and users? 'We've seen that needs have changed dramatically over the past ten years. People are now placing more value on practical and ergonomic solutions. Trend research is also gaining importance. To this end, we monitor all groups of the population, from young to old, so that we understand what products and services will be needed in the future. Demographic changes indicate areas where the greatest support will be needed – keyword Ambient Assisted Living. Height adjustable cabinets, SPACE STEP and SERVO-DRIVE will play an important role in this context.'


The AgeExplorer® age simulation suit is a trademark of the Meyer-Hentschel Institute, which is one of the pioneers of instant aging. It was first presented in 1994 and has been used by Julius Blum GmbH to monitor products and their use in practice since 2005.

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