Thanks to the explosion of anti-gluten sentiment, gluten-free foods have become one of the hottest-selling items in grocery stores and restaurants around the US. But slinging rice crackers isn’t the only way to cash in on the gluten-free craze, and a tech company in San Francisco is hoping to bring a convenient, portable and reusable gluten-testing device to market by early next year.
Nima is the name of a new allergen sensor being designed by 6SensorLabs, a start-up founded by two former MIT students (who also both happen to be gluten-free). The allure of the pocket-size sensor is that diners can take it anywhere and test any food in just a couple of minutes. The device utilizes disposable “test pods” that users can fill with a tiny bit of food before being alerted to whether it contains the allergen in question. According to PSFK, though testing kits are nothing new, what sets Nima apart is its size and simplicity.
To show how the sensor can be used, the company even released an infographic explaining “Recommendations for dining out with Nima,” which suggests starting every meal by asking the waitstaff if you can get food samples. “Ask for samples of soups, salads, dressings, or other foods of concern prior to ordering,” they write. Though not included on the infographic, “Learn to ignore your server’s look of extreme displeasure” would probably be another helpful step.
Eventually, the people behind Nima hope to make similar devices for other allergens like peanuts or milk, but for now they are focusing on gluten. Though there’s no specific timetable for Nima’s release, the company is encouraging interested parties to add their names to a wait-list. Until then, you’ll just have to believe whatever those restaurant workers tell you.