Food, for humans, is a source of joy, pleasure and nourishment. Imagine then, having to be stressed about the plate put in front of you. No, we’re not talking merely about counting calories. We’re talking about the seriousness of celiac disease or a high gluten sensitivity. We all know friends or relatives with this disease and we’ve been witness to their anxiety when confronted with a plate full of food while eating out.
Nima aims to change that. Invented in 2015, this handheld device lets you test the food in front of you for the gluten compound. It even shows you whether the sample has a high or a low gluten content. People suffering from celiac disease can make informed decisions about their food with the help of this device, erasing all the negativity or anxiety they face when it comes to food.
Nima was invented by 6Sensor Labs, a small start-up based in San Francisco. The co-founders of the company, Shireen Yates and Scott Sundvor, both suffer from various food allergies. Their constant worry about whether the food served to them was safe to eat or not is what led them to collaborate and come up with Nima. This pocket device was listed in Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2015. It became available for purchase in 2017.
It’s fairly easy and convenient to use Nima. You have to put a pea-sized sample of the food you want to test in a one-time-use capsule and screw it on to the main body of the triangular device. There is only one button which works for turning the device on and off and for starting a test. In the capsule, antibodies react with the food to determine the presence of gluten. This procedure takes approximately 3 minutes. If the food is gluten-free, the device will display a smiley face. If it contains gluten, a frowning face will be displayed. Furthermore, if the food has gluten, the device will display wheat stalks. One wheat stalk will mean low levels of gluten and two will mean high levels of gluten. That is enough information to decide whether you want to risk consuming the food you’re testing.
The capsules are the use-and-throw variety, so you won’t have any cleaning up to do once you have tested a food sample on the device.
The Nima device is priced a bit steep. For the Starter Kit, which will contain the device, a charging cable, 3 capsules and a carrying bag, you’ll have to pay Rs 13,000. The main expenditure in the long term will be the one-time-use capsules. A pack of 12 capsules can be purchased for Rs 3,142. But hey, it’s not too high a price to pay for your peace of mind.
This unique device is the only gluten sensor available in the market. It is Bluetooth enabled and will sync with a Nima app which is available for both Android and iPhone devices. The app is what makes this device really useful. The app will save your data each time you test a food sample on your Nima device. It will also give you access to data that other users have fed in for food at various restaurants. This crowd-sourced data will eventually be integrated with restaurant finding apps. This will mean that each time you decide to eat out, you won’t have to test the food at a restaurant for gluten. Another user might have already done so on a previous visit and the app will inform you what food item they did this test for. This database that the app will contain will be a goldmine of information for people who want to avoid gluten while eating out or purchasing groceries.
The makers of the Nima device warn that the device is a supplement to your decision-making, not a replacement. It will help you make informed decisions about your food but it cannot be solely relied upon.
The company has also come up with a peanut sensor for those with peanut allergies. Next on the agenda is a dairy sensor for lactose-intolerant people.
The Nima device is exclusively available on the company’s website.
Get it here: https://nimasensor.com/
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