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In Iceland, an app to avoid incest

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — 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.

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A new smartphone app is helping 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 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.

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.

The Book of Icelanders database was developed in 1997 and claims to have information on 95 percent of all Icelanders who have lived in the last 300 years.

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