As many Icelanders are unaware to be closely related, three young students from the University of Iceland designed an app that allows you to know if your best friend, or date, is a relative. In other words, this app will help you avoid dating your cousin.
Probably the possibility of ending up on a date, or in bed, with a relative might sound quite strange. We are used to living in populated societies where the chances of starting a relationship with an unknown relative are incredibly small, but in Iceland the situation is different.
There are two main factors why Icelanders might be worried that the guy or girl they are dating, could actually be a very close relative.
First, Iceland is a country inhabited by only 320,000 people and, as a matter of fact, almost all of them trace ancestry to the island’s settlers from the 9th century. Moreover, the extremely low rates of immigration to the small, isolated island did not help in “mixing up” the population through time.
Different last names
Secondly, there is no direct way of knowing whether two people are related. In Iceland, a person’s last name is still determined by the fathers name. While most of us are used to inheriting our dad’s last name, Icelandic last names are made up by the dad’s name, followed by either “dottir” or “son”, depending if it’s a girl or a boy.
For example, a girl called Brynja and daughter of Mr. Magnus Johansson will be called Brynja Magnusdottir (literally meaning daughter of Magnus). Therefore last names between relatives are never the same, so there is no simple way of knowing whether someone is your cousin or uncle.
An app solves it all
To solve this issue in a very 21st century way, three software-engendering students from the University of Iceland came up with an App called IslendingaApp (Iceland App). By simply “bumping” two phones, the app looks into its database and finds out whether two people should be going on their second date or not.
“When you bump, it shows your nearest common ancestors. If you bump with someone who’s too closely related, you get an alarm sound and a text warning” explains Arnar Freyr Adalsteinsson, one of the developers.
The application uses the Icelandic genealogical database, called Islendingabok, which traces all connections between Iceland’s inhabitants. This database has been available to Icelanders for long in order to trace their ancestries, also through mobile phones. However, this app is designed specifically for this and by taking advantage of today’s technology, it makes the database more accessible and easier to consult.
The App is however available for Icelanders only, as a personal security number is required to log in. Very officious.
Let’s move to Iceland. Or maybe Icelanders want to try the long distance route? Filmin can help with this: