Time Magazine describes this food scanning device as “The Sensor That Sniffs Out Gluten”. Named as one of the magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2015, the device from Nima is getting ready to be shipped to customers very soon, this year.
The device is aimed at people who are allergic to certain food proteins like gluten.
Detecting allergens in food
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It causes allergies in millions of Americans who suffer from gluten sensitivity, also referred to as celiac disease, a digestive and autoimmune disorder.
Nima, based out of San Francisco and known earlier as 6SensorLabs, is one of the few companies focused on developing technologies that detect, measure and provide information about food and its ingredients before it is consumed. The award-winning startup believes that “You should be able to trust your food” and that “Mealtime is about enjoyment, not anxiety”
Nima will also be releasing in future, sensors that detect allergens in peanuts and dairy products. These are two other proteins that trigger major food allergies among countless Americans.
Versatile Nima tests food samples in any form
Nima is versatile and can be used to test food in any form, irrespective of whether it is a solid or a liquid. It can be used to test soups, sauces, fried foods or baked foods.
Portable and socially convenient
Nima is portable and can be carried around easily on vacations, office related travel and social events. It fits into a small handbag. Shireen Yates, a co-founder of the company is gluten sensitive and has this to say about the soon to be released sensor “My hope is that people are going to be able to eat socially without accidentally getting sick”.
The way Nima works
You need to add a small sample of food into the well of a disposable capsule that is pre-loaded with Nima’s proprietary chemistry. Screwing the capsule lid shut grinds the food inside the capsule, which then reacts with the pre-loaded contents or antibody. The mixture is released on the test strip. The sensors in Nima analyze and read the test strip for the presence of gluten. A frown appears on the sensor if the food has gluten in it. In case of foods that do not contain gluten a smile appears. Such food is considered safe.
Results are displayed on Nima, usually within two minutes. It is likely to be the fastest gluten tester on the market, detecting at least 20 parts per million (ppm) or more of the allergen in food. As per USFDA norms, a product to be labeled ‘gluten free’ must not have more than a maximum of 20 ppm of gluten.
Stay connected to beat gluten
The device uses a Bluetooth low energy connection to a smartphone. Users can share the results of their tests with others while receiving updates from others to beat gluten led allergies.
Single use capsules to avoid cross contamination
The capsules are for single use and should not be cleaned or re-used as this could lead to contamination of the sample and erroneous results. Sometimes, cross-contamination can happen in foods cooked in the same container or medium like oil. Nima can detect traces of gluten contamination in such cases. Usually, these cases occur in hotels or at large catering events and parties where care is not exercised in the cleaning of cooking utensils. Despite this, persons who are gluten sensitive must use their own judgment at such social events as sensitivity to gluten varies from person to person.
Nima is priced at $199 for pre-orders. The price eventually will be around $249.