App stops you from accidentally hooking up with your long-lost cousin

12 March 2018 - 13:01 By Jessica Brodie
"Good news, you're not my cousin."
"Good news, you're not my cousin."
Image: 123RF/antonioguillem

Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, is a famously modern and progressive city where social interactions are centered around coffee, open sandwiches and casual sex.

While having a one-night stand won't raise an eyebrow in Iceland, your choice of partner might. With a population of only 320,000, it's one of the least densly populated countries on earth. And, in such a small society, the chances of hooking up with someone you're related to is so high that it’s become something of a running joke.

Inspired by their love of genealogy, Icelanders have invented a novel solution to their problem of accidental incest: it's an app called ÍslendingaApp SES.

It evolved out of a project which began in the 90’s, called Islendiga (The Book of Icelanders), which provides an almost complete record of the genealogy of the country dating back at least 300 years. 

The app has since been modified to include an 'incest alarm'

How does the app work? Simply place your phone near someone else’s and the app will tell you how closely related you are.

It wasn't long before people realised this app could be used as an unconventional dating tool.

It's since been modified to include an “incest alarm". Place your phone next to someone and, if necessary, it will alert you to the fact that you are too closely related to tumble into bed. Their hilariously light-hearted slogan for the feature: “Bump phones before you bump in bed.”

It is not the first-time technology has morphed in such a remarkable way: YouTube, the video sharing goliath was conceived initially as a dating app. The idea was that users would upload videos of themselves in which they explained who they are and what they were looking for. The app didn’t receive a single submission until the developers pivoted and decided to drop the dating aspect and focus solely on its potential as a video sharing platform.