Sunday, September 4, 2016

Vitality Compass vs. Longevity Illustrator

If you want to know how long you are going to live, you could consult a palm reader or some other mystic.  Alternatively you could look to science, math and academia.  But who wins between academics and actuaries?

Recently, the Society of Actuaries and Academy of Actuaries and Blue Zones released life expectancy websites. If "Life expectancy" was a cat video, actuaries would be YouTube.  The study of mortality is central to actuarial science. But I'll try to be objective in my evaluation.

Vitality Compass 

by Blue Zones 

User Experience:

  • First in order to use the tool, you have to login.   Not thrilled about that.  
  • Next you fill in background information:
  • Right off the bat, I noticed that they ask questions about Race, Region, and Height/Weight. Including how much do you weigh now vs. 2 years ago. Also other health questions.  Similar to underwriting questions on life insurance.
  • Step 2-4 is more questions related to "outlook" and health and habits.  Including stress and activity level, smoking, diet.
  • Step 5 is relationships
  • Step 6 is education, income and other lifestyle questions I
  • It didn't take long to complete.


It mentions that this tool is built with help from the University of Minnesota School of Public health. That's all the resource material they provide.

I'm not sure how much of the questionnaire they use in their algorithm, or if it is just data collection.


Immediate reactions: 
  • Yay! My "biological age" is less than my real age.
  • I like that they have a total vs. healthy life expectancy.
  • I have no idea what "accrued years are"
  • They also say I can add 4.5 years to my life through a change in habits. Then they list several recommendations in a friendly tone. 

Longevity Illustrator

User Experience:

  • Great intro on the front page explaining what is going on and what you will end up seeing. 
  • Option to add a second person is a key differentiation. But there seemed to be now way to run it solo. 
  • Super fast, minimal input for entry.  Just tobacco and overall health question.


Throughout the process there is a lot of explanation about what is going on and why. Also the about and FAQ sections provide great supplementary information, including the basis for the calculations.


I entered my own self in both person entries, once with average health, and once with excellent health.  Getting to 93.4 looks like a 20ish% chance with average health and close to 30% for excellent health.

The  Illustrator also gives you a planning horizon and a probability of living a certain number of years.  Each section comes with detailed explanation.


The actuaries win!  The transparency and speed give them the edge.  However, this was not a blow out.  The Vitality Compass gave a great fight and it's additional components and advice are very intriguing.

To be fair, these tools have different purposes.  They meet their specific purposes pretty well, namely quality of your future life, vs. considerations around financial well being. The tools are better compliments than rivals and can give the person doing the assessment useful nuggets to think about.

Finally,as a control I looked at a generic death date site. Result below:
My Death Clock Prediction

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