Bump phones before you bump in bed

Image: 123RF/pixelbliss

Iceland is usually famous for its unimaginable landscapes. It’s a volcanic island, lit by the Northern lights, opague turquoise hot springs and ancient glaciers, a place where one can imagine the Nordic gods still roam. It is also a famously modern and progressive and society, where social interactions are centered around coffee, open sandwiches and casual sex.

Its less known for being one of the most well-organized countries in the world. Settled by Norsemen in AD 874, It is home to the world’s oldest parliament and a fastidious and long-standing love for recording keeping. The population of Iceland is only 320 000 people, making it one of the least densely populated countries on earth.

Thanks to a project which began in the 90’s, called “The Book of Icelanders,” it is the only country in the world with an almost complete record of its population, with codified records of the population and its predecessors dating back at least 300 years. The company later developed a companion app,  it works by placing your phone near someone else’s, the app then tells you how closely related you are.

This feature was quickly hijacked into an unintentional dating tool. In such a small society, the chances of hooking up with someone you are related to is so high that it’s a something of a running joke. There is even a famous advert that shows a couple waking up in bed after a one-night stand (which does not raise an eyebrow in Iceland) only to discover via Islendiga that they are cousins. The app has since been modified to include an “incest alarm.” Place your phone next to someone and it will alert you to the fact that you are too closely related. Their hilariously light-hearted slogan for the feature: “Bump phones before to 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.