I think it’s not only good but also best thing for people with celiac disease or or autoimmune disorders triggered by gluten, figuring out if food is safe to eat typically involves scrutinizing nutrition labels or pestering the server. Sure, the bread basket is clearly off-limits, but your server isn’t totally sure whether there are traces of the protein in the soup of the day.
It was developed by 6 Sensor Labs co-founder and CEO Shireen Yates, who has gluten sensitivity, came up with the idea for the Nima at a wedding in 2012. She’d forgotten her gluten-free snacks at home and the caterers for the event couldn’t tell her whether or not her meal contained gluten. “How hard is it to just take a sample of this and know if there’s gluten on it?” she recalled thinking. “We put someone on the moon; it can’t be that hard.”
At the time, Yates was earning her MBA at MIT. She teamed up with gluten-free schoolmate Scott Sundvor, then an undergraduate in mechanical engineering; together they founded 6SensorLabs and relocated to San Francisco in 2013. They first pitched the idea of a food screening tool to restaurants and food manufacturers, but the companies weren’t interested, since they could easily send samples to a lab. But it was a different story with customers. Yates said, “People said, ‘I want something like that, absolutely.”
Nima is a tiny device that fits in the palm of your hand and tests small samples of food and liquids for the presence of gluten. You just place a food or liquid sample in one of the gadget’s disposable cartridges, and slide it into the sensor. After about two minutes, the device displays either a smiley face emoticon, meaning there’s no gluten present, or a frowning face emoticon, meaning it’s off-limits.
Though it won’t be available until early 2016, 6SensorLabs has priced the device between $179 and $199 until the presale ends. After that, it will cost $249 with a monthly subscription for a dozen capsules running $47.95.