What if you could know the exact moment of your death? Well, one ghoulish marketer will be counting down the seconds until he dies, as revelers tick off the seconds until the New Year’s Eve ball-drop in Times Square.
“Death is non-negotiable, life isn’t,” said Swedish inventor Fredrik Colting, who has a Kickstarter campaign for a so called “death watch.”
Colting, a former gravedigger who now lives in Los Angeles, calls his new product - Tikker – a happy watch, one that “counts down your life (but in a good way).”
“I think that if we are aware of death, and our own expiration, that we will have a greater appreciation for life,” Colting told ABCNews.com. “Some people have gone through near-death experiences, or survived serious illnesses, and they come out of it with a new way to look at life. They no longer sweat the small stuff, but are simply happy to be alive.”
Colting, 37, got the idea for the watch when his grandfather died: “It made me think about death and the transience of life, and I realized that nothing matters when you are dead. Instead, what matters is what we do when we are alive.”
Potential customers find the idea intriguing. Mark G. Auerbach, a publicist from Longmeadow, Mass. , quipped that the wrist watch “would be helpful.”
“I could put out the trash, change into clean underwear and blast some Ethel Merman one last time in the neighborhood while sipping latte,” he said.
The watch-wearer simply fills out a questionnaire and inputs age and the countdown begins. Tikker uses a common algorithm used by the federal government to estimate a person’s life expectancy.
Ann Rosen Spector, a Philadelphia psychologist who specializes in adult development, said that if she knew she were going to die, she would “dig into a pint of Haagen-Dazs vanilla almond [ice cream].”
But she said other people are usually in denial about their death.
“Most people can’t even write a will or an advanced directive,” Rosen Spector said. “Facing up to their own mortality is not something most people want. Everyone wants to die at 99 in their sleep. Even when people have a terminal illness, they live in denial about how long they have.”
Tikker will be available in April 2014 for $79, according to Colting’s group, who say they have already received thousands of orders from “everyone from teenagers to retired folks” in the United States, France, Brazil, Vietnam and Russia, as well as other countries, according to Colting.
“I think that we have two things that unite us humans, all over the world, and that is that one day we are born, and one day we die,” he said. “Everyone can relate to this, and everyone thinks about the concept of life and death.”
A Buddhist organization has even expressed interest in the watch as it ticks with their religious philosophy, Colting said.
But Nancy Dunbar Stevens, a rector at The Church of the Epiphany & Ephphatha Mission of the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y., is not so sure.
“On the one hand, I’d know how much time I’d have to squeeze in all the things I want to do but haven’t, say things to people that need to be said, and make amends when necessary and possible,” Stevens said.
“But, on the other hand, not knowing allows me to be open to discovery, make choices not dependent on timing and to seek God’s presence in my every day life.”