Iceland Needed an Incest-Prevention App; Now It Has One

How is an Icelander supposed to know if the person he or she is sleeping with is a relative? Incredibly enough, there’s an app for that.

Iceland Needed an Incest-Prevention App; Now It Has One

One great thing about reading books on tablets is that nobody can tell whether you’re reading Get Confident Now in public, or something much less personally revealing. Luckily for Icelanders, bystanders can’t easily tell what app you’re using either.


Because the Icelandic population is so small, most Icelanders are often related to each other in some form or another. In fact, it’s apparently a common practice to make a game of tracing each other’s genealogy when entering a new relationship. That’s because it’s never immediately clear whether any two people are closer related than they might fear. Making sure just got a little easier though.

It’s become common for Icelanders to use the online registry, Íslendingabók (“The Book of Icelanders”) to find the familial origins of over 720,000 individuals born in Iceland. (The current population stands at about 320,000.)
Recently, a trio of engineers culled reams of information from the Íslendingabók database to create an app that determines whether the user is related to other Icelanders. Simply enter your new friend’s name in the ÍslendingaApp, which is available in Android, and find out right away.

Even better, the app gives you the option of using mobile “bump” technology, which lets flirty Icelandic bar dwellers simply bump their phones together to see just how related they are. This breakthrough led the engineers to the inevitable slogan: “Bump the app before you bump in bed.”

Watch a video for the new app below.

[Image: Flickr user Linda, App Images: SadEngineerStudios]

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.