Digital Life
Nokyoung Xayasane
Nokyoung
Xayasane
April 18, 2013

New App Helps Iceland’s Citizens Avoid Incest


There are a bunch of faux pas questions we’re told not to ask on first dates or even second or third dates. Questions like, How do you feel about gun control? Or, How come you’re still single? Or, Why do you have a whole bunch of framed photos of yourself hanging in every room? You know, awkward questions you’d rather not know the answers to – not immediately, that is.

But there’s one question most people don’t ask on a first date: So …  think we’re related? Well, unless you live in Iceland. Due to the country’s small population, a shared heritage and a limited gene pool, it’s apparently a pretty common thing for Icelandic folks to hook up with a second cousin or some other relative by mistake.

To combat this dating mishap, three engineering students from the University of Iceland created an app with an anti-incest feature. For real.

The app was created as part of a contest run by deCODE Genetics. The biotech company wanted contestants to find creative uses for an online database of Icelanders that contains information dating back 1,200 years. The database is available to all residents of Iceland, but the new app brings the data to users’ phones.

So, the next time an Icelandic resident is chatting up a hottie at their local pub, all they need to do is bump phones to see if they’re related.

“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,” says Arnar Freyr Adalsteinsson, one of the app’s three developers.

Although the “bump” feature is getting a lot of attention, the chief executive of deCODE Genetics Kari Stefansson, doesn’t want this app feature to give the wrong impression of Iceland.

“The Icelandic nation is not inbred,” he said. “This app is interesting. It makes the data much more available. But the idea that it will be used by young people to make sure they don’t marry their cousins is of much more interest to the press than a reflection of reality.”

Since the app’s launch a few days ago, it’s been downloaded over 5,000 times and has a 4.6/5 rating from reviewers.