Patent for a wristwatch that tells you how much longer you could expect to live

In 2007, Kevin Kelly started displaying a life expectancy countdown clock on his computer. (I posted about it on Boing Boing.) Here's what he wrote about it:

I've been using this system for several months now and it has been very powerful. Day to day I am aware -- and can rattle off if I am asked - how many days I have left. I decided to post my project today because on my clock it shows a handily rounded off sum. So here is the news: As of today I have 8,500 days left to live. That's not much in my book. I can almost hear them ticking away as we speak. I look at my lifelist of current dreams and I realize that in only 8,500 days I won't get to but a few of them. And what of any new dreams?

(It must be at 6,500 or so now.) I thought of Kevin when I saw this 1991 patent for a “life expectancy timepiece”:

It shows the years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds you have left, according to actuarial data. I think Kevin's "days remaining" presentation is more moving than this watch's display, however. Someone should Kickstart a wristwatch that shows how many days you could expect to live!

Memento Mori


  1. It cannot know. The Good Lord Jesus in our Most Holey and Sacred Historical Text tells us that we do not know the time or the hour of his coming and that HIS coming can only mean that which takes us to HIM, in the presence of the LORD in the most HIGH AND HOLEY HEAVEN, which is above and below and all around, EVEN IN THE SPACES BETWEEN THE COUCH CUSHIONS.

    REPENT, SINNERS! You are not guaranteed the next BREATH through your polluted mouths, much less whatever this Devil’s Watch tells you.

  2. I’d like to see this idea refreshed with some of the new gizmos that have come out recently that monitor activity, diet, sleep, etc., such as FitBit, Jawbone Up, or NikeFuel, or even just apps like Runkeeper, Gympact or LoseIt. It’d be very motivating to see that a couple of days were added to the clock every time you went to the gym, for instance, or got a full night’s rest, or taken away every time you ate a cheeseburger.

  3. It’d be a fairly easy thing to add to a MetaWatch – I’d add it to my software, but

    a) that’s far too morbid
    b) I wouldn’t want to go breaking the aforementioned patent, now, would I?

    1.  If you want something that’s been Kickstartered, there’s the Pebble watch.  Metawatch looks cool.  If you want something that’s programmer-friendly and cheap, the TI Chronos is $50, often discounted to $25, and has an accelerometer and radio links so you can do a variety of things with it.

      1. I’ve already got a MetaWatch, which is very dev friendly (as I’ve spent the last seven months improving the software!)

        As I said, implementing this would probably take less than 10 minutes, but frankly it gives me the heebie geebies!

    1. My thoughts exactly. It’s an insane world we’re living in if Karl Pilkington’s inventions are becoming real. I wait with baited breath for the ‘old woman turns into a baby’ invention that will surely follow.

  4. Man, I don’t want one of these.  If I go in sudden, unforeseen circumstances, I don’t want my last words on this earth to be: “Gah, stupid watch!”

    Anyway, if Kurzweil is right, all these clocks are gonna hit a big Y2K pretty soon.

  5. Is this based on average life expectancy at birth? Or does it adjust its estimate like real actuarial tables as you age? The average male at birth has a life expectancy of 75.38 years, but if he makes it to 75 he can expect to make it to 85.

    This is why certain arguments about social security and retirement age are misleading and make things sound worse than they are. Thanks to better modern child care the life expectancy at birth has changed a lot since the 30s but the life expectancy of a 65-year-old hasn’t changed nearly as much.

    1. Yes, but by your own statement, the number of infants who *make* it to 65 (and thus start collecting SS) is increasing. So while the expectation of those who have reached the SS gateway may be fairly static once they are in it, the volume of people reaching that gateway is increasing, which is the problem.

  6. Kinda surprised that nobody mentioned the plethora of sites on teh internets that will happily provide some sort of estimate along these lines. and are just two of many. I don’t endorse them. One of them, and I can’t remember which one, and maybe there is more than one, will allow you to download an app which you can stick on your desktop. I really don’t care to have this kind of counter on my desktop, or on my wrist.  

    1. And maybe it could be on the palm of your hand and change colors as each citizen approaches their “Last Day”.  If they refuse to enter the Carousel and accept Renewal, we can send Sandmen after them.

  7. 15814 days left for me. Thats if I (a smoker) will live to the average age for a man in Sweden (78,7ish)… 
    I think its kinda refreshing, found a countdown widget for my android and placed it on my homescreen.

    1.  Shortly after 9/11, a security expert was being interviewed on the radio about what you can do to protect yourself from terrorism.  “Quit smoking and wear your seatbelt!”  Those are much higher risks than crazy people in airplanes. 

      But I don’t need a countdown widget – I’ve got hair that’s gradually switching to gray…

  8. It’s funny. I have a free “Life-O-Meter” app (google for it), and it gets horrible reviews because it completely freaks people out.

    I mean, I literally have a one-star review that’s “I uninstalled this because it gave me nightmares”.

    1. I’ve never understood the fear of knowing ones death date. If I could know exactly when I am going to go I would take that info in a heartbeat. We all know we’re going to die (although apparently many people live in denial of that fact) so imagine the usefulness of having accurate parameters of your stay on this rock.

      The only fear should be spending your final time comatose, painfully ill or paralyzed due to a non-fatal, yet significant trauma or disease. I’ve never been afraid of dying, I’m only afraid of being seriously injured.

      Imagine if you knew exactly how much time you have. You would know exactly how much you could get done and exactly when you could stop sweating things like your credit rating or healthy lifestyle and just go balls out hedonist without a care in the world due to a complete lack of long-term ramifications. Bliss!

  9. I think there should be a Singularitarian version. It starts off ticking down normally, but it keeps slowing down. Then it stops and refuses to start up again.

  10. I hope the ‘Time Expectancy Timepiece’ is eventually manufactured by the Trafalmadorian Corporation.

  11. the way my life is going, the watch would break. i’d spend my final days rifling thru warranty papers and pressing 1 (o marque ocho) to speak with a representative.

  12. I don’t get it why everybody is in such a hurry to die. I have absolutely no plans of dying, such a waste of time.

    Like with the Venus flyover… “Last chance to see in your lifetime!” Pfft… you can go die if you want to, I missed this one due to clouds, I’m not going to miss the next one.

  13. If I wore one of these I would need a second watch that told me how far off bankruptcy is if I live life to the fullest.

Comments are closed.