Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published April 18, 2013 at 5:43 PM | Page modified April 18, 2013 at 10:25 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (1)
  • Print

New app helps Icelanders avoid kissing cousins

A new smartphone app is on hand to help Icelanders avoid accidental incest.

The Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
This app can be helpful in the U.S. For decades (as an African American decendant) in ... MORE

advertising

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — You meet someone, there’s chemistry, and then come the introductory questions: What’s your name? Come here often? Are you my cousin?

In Iceland, a country with a population of 320,000 where most everyone is distantly related, inadvertently kissing cousins is a real risk.

A new smartphone app is on hand to help Icelanders avoid accidental incest. The app lets users “bump” phones, and emits a warning alarm if they are closely related. “Bump the app before you bump in bed,” says the slogan.

Some are hailing it as a welcome solution to a very Icelandic form of social embarrassment.

“Everyone has heard the story of going to a family event and running into a girl you hooked up with some time ago,” said Einar Magnusson, a graphic designer in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.

“It’s not a good feeling when you realize that girl is a second cousin. People may think it’s funny, but (the app) is a necessity.”

The Islendiga-App — “App of Icelanders” — is an idea that may only be possible in Iceland, where most of the population shares descent from a group of 9th-century Viking settlers, and where an online database holds genealogical details of almost the entire population.

The app was created by three University of Iceland software-engineering students for a contest calling for “new creative uses” of the Islendingabok, or Book of Icelanders, an online database of residents and their family trees stretching back 1,200 years.

Arnar Freyr Adalsteinsson, one of the three, said it allows any two Icelanders to see how closely related they are, simply by touching phones.

“A small but much talked about feature is the loosely translated ‘Incest Prevention Alarm’ that users can enable through the options menu which notifies the user if the person he’s bumping with is too closely related,” Adalsteinsson said.

“The Icelandic sagas, written about 1,000 years ago, all begin with page after page of genealogy. It was the common man documenting his own history,” said Kari Stefansson, chief executive of Icelandic biotech company deCODE Genetics, which ran the contest behind the app.

The Book of Icelanders database was developed in 1997 by deCODE and software entrepreneur Fridrik Skulason. Compiled using census data, church records, family archives and a variety of other information sources, it claims to have information on 95 percent of all Icelanders who have lived in the past 300 years.

Stefansson says the “bump” feature is an attention-grabbing but relatively minor aspect of an app that brings Icelanders’ love of genealogy into the 21st century.

The app may be of limited use. Currently the alarm only alerts users if they and their new acquaintance have a common grandparent, and most people already know who their first cousins are.

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Bake cookies for a cause

Bake cookies for a cause

Get 23 scrumptious recipes in our "Quintessential Cookies" e-book. One dollar of your $3.95 purchase goes to Fund For The Needy.

Advertising

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►