Icelandic anti-incest app keeps residents from becoming kissin’ cousins

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Iceland does not have a large population, but many of its most celebrated citizens are known for their progressive, quirky attitudes, like Bjork, or badass Reykjavik mayor Jon Gnarr.

Iceland likes to keep it weird, but weird as in they voted for a mayor who ran as a member of the “Best Party” and used to be a comedian and punk rocker. Weird as in drinking more Coca-Cola per capita than any other country in the world. Not weird as in having babies with close relatives.

Unfortunately, since there are only around 320,000 people living in Iceland, and most share common ancestors, almost everyone is related to each other distantly. This is cool if you want to claim kinhood with Sigur Ros but disturbing when you think about how easy it might be to accidentally crush on a cousin. So people are working to make sure relatives stay out of each others’ bedrooms by embracing technology.

An anti-virus software developer named Friðrik Skúlason developed an online database called “The Book of Icelanders” to help people trace their genetic heritage online, and now three app developers took the database and made an explicitly anti-incest feature on their “Book of Icelanders” app, which is available in beta for Android phones.Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 6.46.44 PM

The app developers are three Icelandic men named Arnar Freyr Aðalsteinsson, Hákon Þrastar Björnsson, and Alexeander Annas Helgason, who work together at a development group called Sad Engineer Studios.

When asked what they official slogan is – since all copy is written in Icelandic – the developers tell us the app’s motto is “Bump in the app before you bump in the bed.”

They explain that the app goes beyond a basic search function. “We added a birthday calendar to make sure you don’t forget your relatives birthday. The app even reminds you on the date, to guarantee you won’t forget it. The other big feature we introduced was the Bump. This feature enables users of the app to bump two phones together to instantly see how they are related. The ‘Incest Prevention’ is a fun feature that the user can enable through the options menu which will notify him with both text and sound if the one he bumps with someone who is too related to him.”

“We aren’t sure if other countries have such interestingly interwoven bloodlines like we do, but we’re pretty sure the Icelandic genealogy database is unique in it’s completeness. So even if the need is there, other countries would first have to build a similar database before considering a smartphone implementation.”

We asked if they knew of any cases where incest had definitely been prevented. “We have no proof that the app has prevented such an unfortunate relation but it’s nice to know a such prevention exists today. One reviewer on Google’s Play Store claims that it would have prevented it if he had it last year, but we highly suspect it to be a joke.” We sincerely hope so. 

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