MIT Researcher Creates an Indispensable On-the-Go Gluten Detector

When you live with food allergies, going out to eat can be a pain. There’s the script of questions to the wait staff, the uncertainty, and even mistakes that can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. As CNBC reports, Nima could change all that.

The first portable, on-the-go gluten tester made for the consumer, Nima was developed by Shireen Yates and Scott Sundvor, who met at MIT and discovered they had at least one thing in common: their food allergies.

Yates is allergic to gluten, soy, dairy and eggs; Sundvor to gluten.

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Nima Sensor

While food allergen testing products do exist, they’re made with food manufacturers, rather than consumers, in mind.

“I was tired of answering the same questions (and really hangry at the time). I just wanted a quick, easy way to test a piece of the dish and see for myself if it was gluten-free,” Yates said about her revelation, which followed a less-than-stellar dinner at a friend’s wedding.

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Nima Sensor

So, in 2013, Yates and Sundvor came up with Nima, which ranked 17th on CNBC’s annual Upstart 25 list; the duo also won $100,000 from and MIT Accelerate competition, securing funding to produce their device.

Developed in San Francisco by a team of people from MIT, Stanford, Google and Nike, the result is a sleek, pocket-sized black triangle, about three inches across and one inch thick.

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Nima Sensor

Diners simply take a morsel — or drop — of food, pop it into the proprietary capsule and let it do it’s thing in a matter of minutes.

It’s sensitive, detecting 20 parts per million of gluten or more, and the capsules are single-use and disposable, meaning no cleaning.

nima-gluten-sensor

Nima Sensor

When the results are ready, an LED smiley face lets consumers know their food is gluten-free; if it’s not, a wheat icon appears along with “Low Gluten” or “High Gluten.”

Easy, right?

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Nima Sensor

A peanut-sensing option is due this fall. Nima is also Bluetooth connected, so diners can share what they know online to stay one step ahead.

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