Truth, Stranger Than Fiction: Iceland's Anti-Incest App Cuts Back On Inbreds, Now on Google Play

Iceland has a problem that people in most countries don’t really have to worry about: Inbreeding. The tiny nation is home to just 320,000 people, which puts it right between the Kalamazoo/Portage, MI and South Bend/Mishawaka, IN metro areas in terms of population.

Imagine if your choices for life partners were limited to the South Bend area. (No disrespect to all the Hoosiers out there.) Now imagine that was the case for your entire family, dating back generations. An unnerving number of the people in your small region would be related to you in some way.

Because technology is great and incest is not, an anti-virus software entrepreneur named Friðrik Skúlason teamed up with medical research company deCODE genetics to develop the “Book of Iceland” database, which traces Icelandic family history back 1,200 years.

Where avoiding incest is surprisingly difficult

The project’s website reads: “Most of the genealogical information comes from sources such as church records, national censuses, inhabitants registers and other public documents, but in addition to these sources there are chronicles, books of convictions, various publications on genealogy, books about individuals within specific occupations, lists of descendants and ancestral records as well as memorial articles to name but a few.”

Only Icelandic citizens, legal residents, or those who have an Icelandic ID number are allowed access to the database. But even so, how does one access such a database? If you’ll pardon the marketing tag, there’s an app for that.

Book of Iceland app

No, seriously, there’s an actual app in the Google Play store that gives users access right from their Android devices. It’s all thanks to Sad Engineer Studios, who told Digital Trends that the app’s slogan is “Bump in the app before you bump in the bed.”

In practice, this is how it works: You see an attractive so-and-so across the bar, strike up a flirtatious conversation, and at some point (and not at all awkwardly) open up the app and bump your phones together to see if and how you’re related. The “Incest Prevention” feature will alert you with both sound and text if you’re a little too related to that other person.

One obvious potential flaw with this app is determining how close is too close a relation. We once had a high school teacher who was married to his fifth cousin. And he was his own sixth cousin. Is that too close, or would that pass the bump test?