New app helps Icelanders avoid accidental incest - New York News

New app helps Icelanders avoid accidental incest

Posted: Updated:
  • MyFoxNY PhotosMore>>

  • Mug Shots

    Mug Shots

    See arrest photos, including some of the most unique and note-worthy mug shots.
    This information was supplied by law enforcement . All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law

JENNA GOTTLIEB & JILL LAWLESS 

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — You meet someone, there's chemistry, and then come the introductory questions: What's your name? Come here often? Are you my cousin?

In Iceland, a country with a population of 320,000 where most everyone is distantly related, inadvertently kissing cousins is a real risk.

A new smartphone app is on hand to help Icelanders avoid accidental incest. The app lets users "bump" phones, and emits a warning alarm if they are closely related. "Bump the app before you bump in bed," says the catchy slogan.

Some are hailing it as a welcome solution to a very Icelandic form of social embarrassment.

"Everyone has heard the story of going to a family event and running into a girl you hooked up with some time ago," said Einar Magnusson, a graphic designer in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik.

"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."

The Islendiga-App — "App of Icelanders" — is an idea that may only be possible in Iceland, where most of the population shares descent from a group of 9th-century Viking settlers, and where an online database holds genealogical details of almost the entire population.

The app was created by three University of Iceland software engineering students for a contest calling for "new creative uses" of the Islendingabok, or Book of Icelanders, an online database of residents and their family trees stretching back 1,200 years.

Arnar Freyr Adalsteinsson, one of the trio, said it allows any two Icelanders to see how closely related they are, simply by touching phones.

"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," Adalsteinsson said.

It's the latest twist on a long-standing passion for genealogy in Iceland, a volcanically active island in the North Atlantic that was unpopulated before Norse settlers arrived in 874 AD. Their descendants built a small, relatively homogenous and — crucially — well-organized country, home to the world's oldest parliament and devoted to thorough record-keeping.

"The Icelandic sagas, written about 1,000 years ago, all begin with page after page of genealogy. It was the common man documenting his own history," said Kari Stefansson, chief executive of Icelandic biotech company deCode Genetics, which ran the contest behind the app.

The Book of Icelanders database was developed in 1997 by deCode and software entrepreneur Fridrik Skulason. Compiled using census data, church records, family archives and a host of other information sources, it claims to have information on 95 percent of all Icelanders who have lived in the last 300 years.

The database can be scoured online by any Icelandic citizen or legal resident. The app makes the data available to Icelanders on their mobile phones — and adds the anti-incest feature.

Currently available for Android phones, it has been downloaded almost 4,000 times since it was launched earlier this month. The creators also hope to develop an iPhone version.

Stefansson says the "bump" feature is a media-friendly but relatively minor aspect of an app that brings Icelanders' love of genealogy into the 21st century.

He also hopes it won't convey the wrong impression about 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."

It may also be of limited use. Currently the alarm only alerts users if they and their new acquaintance have a common grandparent, and most people already know who their first cousins are.

Adalsteinsson stresses that the app has other, less sexual uses.

"We added a birthday calendar to make sure you don't forget your relatives' birthdays," he said. "The app even reminds you on the date to guarantee you won't forget it."

___

Lawless reported from London. AP writer Raphael Satter in London contributed this report.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Eric Garner's family seeks federal probe of police custody death

    Eric Garner's family seeks federal probe of police custody death

    Friday, July 25 2014 5:46 PM EDT2014-07-25 21:46:48 GMT
    Family members of a man who died in police custody, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others met with federal prosecutors Friday to press for an investigation into the death. An amateur video shows a plainclothes police officer placing Garner in what appears be a chokehold last week while arresting him on Staten Island. The 43-year-old Garner can be heard gasping, "I can't breathe!" Chokeholds are banned under New York Police Department policy.
    Family members of a man who died in police custody, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others met with federal prosecutors Friday to press for an investigation into the death. An amateur video shows a plainclothes police officer placing Garner in what appears be a chokehold last week while arresting him on Staten Island. The 43-year-old Garner can be heard gasping, "I can't breathe!" Chokeholds are banned under New York Police Department policy.
  • Prison officers block news crew from tourist site

    Prison officers block news crew from tourist site

    Friday, July 25 2014 5:25 PM EDT2014-07-25 21:25:19 GMT
    An upstate New York TV crew was threatened with arrest by corrections officers as they filmed at a public historic site on the grounds of an empty, soon-to-be-closed state prison.
    An upstate New York TV crew was threatened with arrest by corrections officers as they filmed at a public historic site on the grounds of an empty, soon-to-be-closed state prison.
  • Camping without leaving NYC (or even Manhattan)

    Camping without leaving NYC (or even Manhattan)

    Friday, July 25 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-25 21:15:28 GMT
    If you thought camping meant leaving New York City, fuggedaboutit. Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan and several other parks in the five boroughs are waiting for you and your family. New York City's family camping program, run by the Parks Department, is in full swing. No cars needed; your MetroCard will get you there.
    If you thought camping meant leaving New York City, fuggedaboutit. Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan and several other parks in the five boroughs are waiting for you and your family. New York City's family camping program, run by the Parks Department, is in full swing. No cars needed; your MetroCard will get you there.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices