by Susie Bramhall
For those with either Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance (yes, include me in the group), we know how tough it can be when eating out to ensure the food we put into our mouths is free from any gluten — whether in the food itself or through cross-contamination. It is especially stressful for me, personally, when grabbing a bite at a restaurant that does high volume, such as a semi-fast food joint. Did they really use a separate knife when cutting the lettuce? Were the onions grabbed by an employee, although wearing gloves, who just handled bread? These questions and others lead me to often spend longer than usual time with my waiter or ordering cashier to ensure my food is safe for me to consume. And then to be honest, I look at the final product and I’m still not 100% sure.
So, when I heard about a handy little device than can help me and others check the gluten content in my food, it was definitely something I wanted to explore.
With a mission to develop new ways to quickly test food on-the-go, it was very personal for both Sundvor and Yates to bring that plan to fruition…striving for a way to alleviate the stress around unknown food ingredients, deliver social freedom, and make mealtime enjoyable again.
“I found out in college that I had allergies to gluten, dairy, egg and soy and had to completely change the way I ate,” says Yates. “I met my co-founder, Scott Sundvor, through mutual friends at MIT. He has ulcerative colitis and follows a gluten-free diet to help manage those symptoms. We bonded over our shared intestinal distress and decided to build a product that would help people know what is exactly in their food.”
The result: Nima, a discreet and portable device that allows consumers to test their meals for gluten anytime, anywhere. At just 3.5. long, 1” wide and 3.1” high, the triangular-shaped Nima fits easily in the palm of your hand and can be carried in a purse, pocket, or backpack.
So how does it work?
Nima is optimized to detect 20 parts per million of gluten in a sample.
Explains Yates, “We can’t guarantee the whole plate is gluten-free, but it’s an extra tool you can use to screen your meal before you eat.”
“Options for understanding what’s in our food are minimal, and Nima has the vast potential to fulfill a visceral need in the food transparency sector,” adds Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group, who assumes a new seat on Nima’s board of directors. “Nima leverages human computer interaction to provide the community with better data about our food to potentially save lives – in five years, we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it.”
Founded in 2013, Nima is close to its release, soon to help many find that relief they are looking for…knowing their meal is safe for consumption. In the past year, Nima opened pre-orders for its highly anticipated gluten sensor, going on to win the esteemed TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield competition at CES 2016. To date, you can still reserve your Nima and be one of the first to get your hands on this dynamic device when it goes on sale this coming spring 2017 at nimasensor.com
Expect to pay around $279 for a Nima Starter Kit, which includes the sensor, three one-time-use test capsules, charging cable, and carrying pouch. Capsule refill packs start at $59.95 per 12-pack, but you can save if you subscribe for the refill packs auto-delivery option.
Although Nima is targeted to first sell to consumers who eagerly want to know if gluten is in their food, the company is open to working with restaurants to help them better understand gluten contamination in the kitchen.
So, just as I am super excited for this breakthrough technology into the gluten-free world, the folks at Nima are getting fantastic feedback from those who deal with the same food issues on a daily basis.
“We hear stories every day about people who are isolated because of their diet or get sick, even though they are doing their best to be gluten-free,” explains Yates. “When we tell them about Nima, we are always grateful to hear they think it will be life-changing for them. To have an added peace of mind at meal time means being able to eat outside the home, go to grandma’s house or travel at their peak wellness. One gluten-free mom said they felt like a real family again after using Nima (through Beta testing) at a restaurant because they could laugh and talk and enjoy their time together without anxiety. Nima is very empowering.”
And gluten testing is just the beginning for this innovative tech company, according to Yates.
“We’re also developing tests for peanut, milk and tree nuts to add to the Nima platform, which will continue to expand the database of free-from friendly restaurants and foods in the Nima app. Gluten is only the beginning! “
For more information on the Nima sensor or to pre-order, go to: