This “Death Watch” Allegedly Counts Down the Last Seconds of Your Life

Tuan C. Nguyen in Smithsonian:

Tikker-death-watch2There’s now a watch that reminds us of the one appointment that we won’t be able to cancel. It’s called the Tikker. And it counts down the minutes, and even seconds, we have before we will likely meet our demise. Currently being sold on the crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter, the concept for a so-called “death watch” isn’t as morbidly depressing as it may appear on the surface. In fact, the watch’s creator, Fredrik Colting, believes his invention does exactly the opposite by inspiring and motivating people to “live better.” For Colting, the cold finality of death had only fully set in when his grandfather passed away several years ago. Tikker was born out of his desire to figure out a way to use this acceptance to spur positive changes in one’s life. “It’s my belief that if we are aware of death, and our own expiration,” says Colting, “that we will have a greater appreciation for life.”

To arrive at an estimation of how much longer someone has to live, users fill out a questionnaire that’s designed to add or subtract years based on current age, exercise habits and other health related factors. That exact time can then be programmed into the watch, at which point the final countdown begins. However, the method in which Tikker calculates each person’s individualized expiration date is superficially scientific at best. Though the use of so-called longevity calculators have gained some credibility among researchers, some experts, such as actuary Steve Vernon of the Stanford Center on Longevity, have warned that people shouldn’t rely too much on these kind of approximations since there’s a “50 percent chance you’ll live beyond this estimate.” As an example of how inexact these kind of formulas are, Vernon tested popular online calculators from the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, and His results were 95, 101 and 95.6 years, respectively. In any case, it’s probably best not to view this generated date as a hard deadline. Instead, Colting says, the notion of a “use by” time stamp is supposed to have more of a symbolic meaning and can serve as a practical reminder to pay heed to some of the often-echoed existential epiphanies such as”Carpe Diem!” and “You only live once!”

More here.