A new smartphone app allows Icelanders to see how closely related they are by bumping phones and emits an "incest prevention alarm" if they're too close for comfort.
According to Iceland's national genealogical database, all Icelanders are distantly related, and a new app has been developed to make sure that "kissing cousins" don't actually kiss... or anything else.
"Everyone has heard the story of going to a family event and running into a girl you hooked up with some time ago," Einar Magnusson, a graphic designer in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, told the Associated Press. "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."
Enter the ÍslendingaApp, with its catchy slogan, "Bump the app before you bump in bed."
The ÍslendingaApp was developed as part of a competition for university students to find a "creative new use" for the Íslendingabók or "Book of Icelanders" -- an online genealogical database of the country's inhabitants stretching back 1,200 years. The three University of Iceland software engineering students who designed the app won the competition.
The Íslendingabók online genealogy database states that all of Iceland's 320,000 citizens descended from a man named Jón Arason, who died in 1550.
"We wanted to find new creative uses for the information contained in the database," app developer Arnar Freyr Aðalsteinsson told The Daily Beast. "Our main goal with the app was to implement all existing features of Íslendingabók and also to add some new and exciting features."
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir, a writer for Iceland Review Online who first looked at the database when her brother claimed that she and her boyfriend were related, describes the Íslendingabók as "the only genealogy database in the world that [claims to cover] a whole nation."
"More than 95 percent of all Icelanders born since 1703, when the first national census was taken, are registered into the database and half of all Icelanders who have lived on the island from the settlement in 874 and until 1703," Arnarsdóttir writes. "The registrations in Íslendingabók are based on a whole range of sources, such as censuses, church books, the national registry, ancient scripts, annals, obituaries etc."
Any Icelandic citizen or legal resident can access the database, which first launched in 2010.
It can be difficult to identify relations in Iceland, app developer Aðalsteinsson explained to The Daily Beast, because "Icelandic names differ from most current Western name systems as our surname reflects the immediate father (or in some cases mother) of the child and not the historic family lineage. For example, my last name indicates that I'm the son of Aðalsteinn (my father's name) so therefore I am Aðalsteinsson."
The app is only available for Android now, although the developers hope to have an iPhone version soon. With over 5,000 installations and an average rating of 4.3, the ÍslendingaApp appears to have many happy customers
"If I'd had this earlier," One user wrote in a review of the app, "Maybe I wouldn't have gone home with my cousin."
This video (in Icelandic) explains how the app works:
Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ellie Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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