The startup behind the world’s first portable gluten sensing device is launching a peanut sensing version at CES this week. The new Nima Peanut Sensor is a handheld device designed to detect peanut particles in food by testing small samples in an insertable cartridge.
According to the Food Allergy Research & Education organization, around 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies and around 1/5 of those have some type of peanut allergy, ranging from mild to severe. The Nima Peanut Sensor aims to give people with peanut sensitivities or parents of children with peanut allergies a portable tool to test liquid or solid foods before they take a bite.
The sensor shares the same form factor as the gluten version – a compact black triangular device with room for a testing cartridge and a readable diagnostic screen. But, instead of coming with capsules that create a reaction when interacting with gluten particles, the peanut sensor ships with cartridges designed to detect 20 parts per million (ppm) of peanut protein or more in foods or drinks. Users take a portion of the item they want to test and insert a small sample into the cartridge and place both inside the sensor. After three minutes, the test gives a simple reading; if the peanut sensor detects peanut protein, the portable device will display a peanut icon. If no protein is found, a smiley face pops up letting the user know the food is safe to eat.
When Nima first launched its gluten sensor, the real excitement around the company’s innovation was around the technology – and science – inside each cartridge. What Nima’s founders have done is essentially developed a mini-laboratory in every device and a capsule with the right test materials to detect the unique proteins found in gluten. But as many pointed out, the setup Nima created could be used to detect other allergens and even beyond.
“There’s no reason it can’t be used for dairy or peanuts and there’s nothing stopping them from going to pathogens either,” food tech VC Brian Frank told the Spoon at the 2016 Smart Kitchen Summit.
While the gluten sensor goes after a growing segment of awareness of gluten intolerance in the U.S., the peanut sensor hits an even bigger market and one that’s close to the heart of many parents. Peanut allergies tend to appear in childhood and can produce a life-threatening reaction. Parents and caregivers will be able to use the Nima Peanut Sensor to test foods on the go, at birthday parties and restaurants to avoid a reaction.
Just like the gluten sensor, the peanut sensing device will connect to the Nima mobile app to share test results and build a user database of peanut-free friendly restaurants and packaged foods.
Nima’s peanut sensor is only available for pre-order right now in the U.S. and Canada through March 8 and starter kits are $229 during this promotional period. A starter kit will come with the sensor, a twelve pack of test capsules along with the charger and a carrying case. The sensor will ship at retail later in 2018 and regular price for the peanut sensor starter kit is $289 and additional cartridges will be $6 each and sold in twelve packs. Nima also offers an auto-delivery or membership option which lowers the price of capsules to just under $5 a piece (sold in packs of twelve.)
Interestingly, Nima also has waitlist signs up available for soy, tree nuts, dairy, shellfish and eggs. The company clearly has plans to be the go-to for the millions who suffer from all kinds of food allergies in the future.