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This smartwatch predicts your death

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 1:15pm
Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern

That doesn’t sound morbid at all. At least it saves me the trouble of driving all the way to a psychic, right? The weird thing is that a lot of people can say these things without an ounce of sarcasm. The Tikker death-countdown watch hits the market this April, and thousands of people have already pre-ordered. People spending money on unnecessary tech items doesn’t surprise me anymore, but I think Tikker crosses a line.

Tikker seems a little less “smart” than the other watches available today. It doesn’t record your jog mileage or sync to your Twitter. The main function of this $60 watch is to count down your life -- in large numerals, right down to the second, and right on your wrist. It also displays the current time, but you’ll probably be too scared and distracted to notice it.


The watch estimates your lifespan using an algorithm, similar to the one used by governments to estimate lifespans for its populations and adding in factors such as dietary and lifestyle choices. But it doesn’t factor in the times when seemingly healthy people drop dead at a young age, and it certainly doesn’t consider the Keith Richards phenomenon (seriously, how has that man made it to 70?).

Swedish inventor Fredrik Colting puts an emphasis on the word “estimate.” He says he didn’t create this watch as a “morbid novelty item” but rather as “an earnest attempt to change his own thinking.” Colting aims to encourage people to live life to its fullest potential and take advantage of opportunities. 

There are many studies that show that thinking about death and accepting it as an eventual reality leads to greater generosity and savoring the time we have left. It’s the whole “You only live once” and “Seize the day” mindset.

However, acknowledging human mortality isn’t all YOLO and sunshine. In the 80s, at the University of Missouri, a group of psychologists created a field called the “Terror Management Theory.” This theory hypothesizes different reactions to imminent death.

These psychologists think people will do one of two things: go into denial and embrace anything that gives life meaning, like religion, sports, or in-depth hobbies, or become reclusive and xenophobic, living in fear until the day they die.

The success of Colting’s Tikker watch depends on the people who adopt positive mindsets about death. Will they be enough to bump Tikker out of the “morbid novelty” category and into the legitimate gadget range? 

For more on the death-watch check out this video from PD&D.

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