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Life-expectancy timepiece

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BI-GOODNESS is a bi-monthly column dedicated to the quirky, generally funny and often dangerously impractical inventions and business concepts that occasionally come our way. It is a tribute to the one-eyed entrepreneur, the nutty professor and dotcom jockey in each of us.

With the possible exception of funeral directors, terminally ill patients and a few serious souls at the pointy end of theological enquiry, no one really ever comes to terms with their own mortality… until it’s too late.

Luckily, you don’t need to. Macabre philosophising is just a load of hot air when the countdown that counts is resting right there on your wrist.

We might all be Waiting for Godot, but David Kendrick, the New York inventor behind US Patent 5,031,161 (1991), was adamant that we shouldn’t have to wait in the dark.

The Life Expectancy Timepiece (LET) is, as the name suggests, a device for monitoring how long you have left before being reduced to worm bait.

The countdown is, of course, an estimate. But as guesses go, it leaves no headstone unturned.

According to Kendrick’s grandiose patent application, the LET utilises the most comprehensive actuarial data to ascertain a given user’s impending day of judgement. A microprocessor monitors the passage of time, while an array of buttons and switches enables the imputing of data about factors influencing the final countdown (smoking, drinking, diet, hereditary diseases, exercise, etc.).

The LET concept is certainly seductive. Think of how much easier dating would be if we were all wearing one. Men would stop stealing glances at their date’s cleavage and start obsessing over their wrists. And women, for their part, could cease scrutinising genetic lines for tell-tale signs of a flawed future with their suitor. Just think of how the LET could help Anna Nicole Smith further refine her taste in men.

It’s hard to believe Rolex or Tag Hauer didn’t latch on to the LET patent and run with it. You can picture the polished advertisement now: a rugged middle-aged man at the wheel of a sleek convertible sports car, wearing a tasteful Life Expectancy Timepiece on his wrist and a carefree expression on his brow. Below him is the line, “Do you have the time?”

Then again, one can imagine enthralled owners of an LET watching each second tick down as they wander into the untimely path of a semi-trailer. It’s true that LET manufacturers wouldn’t have any problems with money back guarantee refunds.

Like most members of the exclusive Bi-Goodness fraternity of inventors, David Kendrick was more obsessed with the brilliance of his machine than with its market appeal. Alas, he didn’t make his fortune on this one. But his invention is now immortal, and his fame assured

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