There’s an app for what?! – Icelandic communities use technology to prevent themselves sleeping with their relatives

What good is technology if it doesn’t help you to live your life more efficiently?  This is a question answered to humorous effect when a new app designed to help stop Icelandic part-goers from sleeping with their cousins was unveiled recently.

The app created by IT engineers, Freyr Aðalsteinsson, Hákon Þrastar Björnsson and Alexeander Annas Helgason, is a practical social response to the genetic isolation of the country which has a population of only about 320,000 – of which are all distant relatives to begin with.  Studies into Icelandic genealogy proves that all natives share the same ancestry, so the idea that Icelanders end up taking their cousins home is not a new or a bizarre one.  Rather, the aim is to ensure that the person you end up sleeping with, or indeed marrying and having children with, is a distant relative rather than a close cousin.  According to Icelandic folklore, when people introduce their partners to family members for the first time, they ask, “Who are his (or her) people?” – in a bid to narrow down their relations and ensure that the couple’s blood ties are not too recent.

How it works

Using ‘The Book of Icelanders’ (Íslendingabók), an online registry that catalogues information of about 720,000 individuals born in the country at some point, the app links the 320,000 living Icelanders and connects them to their closer relatives using the archival information.  ‘The Book of Icelanders’ is free and available online to all but it would be impossible (and time-consuming) to go through this and ascertain ahead of time who you could and could not sleep with after a drunken night out.  Queue the nifty “Bump the app before you bump in bed” tool that searches for you and lets you know the potential inappropriateness of your future sexual encounter.  As a cute little gimmick, the app also uses the physical bumping of mobile devices (with the help of GPS) to determine whether he owners of the bumping phones should indeed leave together or not.

All in all a helpful little app that will no doubt spare Icelanders a lot of embarrassment and regret in the future.



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