Avoiding Gluten? Take This New Device Out to Dinner.

The founders of 6SensorLabs want to take the guesswork and fear out of dining out and connect consumers with other people in their position. They are starting with gluten and the sky's the limit.

learn more about Nina Zipkin

By Nina Zipkin • Oct 10, 2015 Originally published Oct 10, 2015

6SensorLabs
Nima

Gluten avoiders, meet Nima.

Available for pre-order later this month, Nima is a small, portable sensor that consumers can use to quickly detect whether the food in front of them contains gluten.

The product is the first for San Francisco-based 6SensorLabs, which was founded two years ago by Massachusetts Institute of Technology alums Shireen Yates and Scott Sundvor. The idea was inspired by their own experiences with food allergies and sensitivities.

Related: Soon, You Could Own a Device That Scans Your Food for Gluten

The key to Nima is its speed. Yates says that existing tests on the market take up to 15 or 20 minutes to give an uneasy diner a definitive answer. Nima takes two minutes. "A lot of the innovation was [asking ourselves] how do we make this fast enough so we can put it in the hands of consumers," she says.

All a user has to do is place a sample of the food into a disposable, one-time use capsule and close it with a cap. They then place the little capsule into the sensor and turn it on with the push of a button. If the food does contain gluten, a little blue sad face will pop up on Nima's display. If it's gluten-free, you'll see a happy face. The sensor will detect if the food contains at least 20 parts per million of the gluten protein, in adherence with the FDA's requirement that gluten-free food contain less than 20 parts per million.

Image Credit: 6SensorLabs

Related: A Gadget That Detects Gluten? With $4 Million in Funding, This Startup Is Working on It.

Yates said she has been pleased with the reception thus far. "I take it pretty much wherever I go out to eat. It's been really great to see people react to it. [The reaction's] been really positive. It's like a novelty, people are really excited and wait staff are really receptive."

A Nima starter kit, with the sensor and three one-time use capsules can be pre-ordered at a discounted price of $179 starting Oct. 20 on the 6SensorLabs website. After the first five days, the price will increase to $199 until pre-orders are exhausted. During the pre-order time, 12 packs of those disposable capsules will be priced at $47.95. The device will retail for $249 at full price.

Related: Why Food, Sleep and Exercise Are Critical to Success

While the kits will only be available to purchase on the site for the time being, Yates says "eventually we do want to be in retail, but just to start, we want to keep total control over the brand, keep an efficient way of getting it into the hands of consumers. We ask people all the time, if this existed in a store, where would you want it? [They tell us] Target, Walgreens, Whole Foods."

Yates, Sundvor and their team of 15 are also hard at work on an app that will be released with the device, but will be accessible without purchase of a kit. On the app, users will find current information about whether a restaurant is allergy-friendly and the knowledgeability of the staff down to whether to avoid a specific item on the menu or, if there is a gluten-free or allergy-free option, how good it actually tastes.

Related: 3 Simple Tips for Elevated Health in Less Than 15 Minutes a Day

So what's next for 6SensorLabs? Looking ahead, tests for peanuts and dairy are next in the queue, followed by other food groups that cause reactions, such as shellfish. Yates and Sundvor are also thinking about tests for additives, GMOs, preservatives and bacteria that causes food poisoning. They are also considering a certification program for restaurants and food manufacturers to be designated as friendly to individuals with food allergies and sensitivities.

Ultimately Yates says her company's mission is about food transparency. "It's food transparency beyond this first protein we are looking at, helping anyone who wants to know what's in their food and how to best nourish themselves."

Related: How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle While Chowing Down at Lunch Meetings

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This Co-Founder Was Kicked Out of Retailers for Pitching a 'Taboo' Beauty Product. Now, Her Multi-Million-Dollar Company Sells It for More Than $20 an Ounce.
Have You Ever Obsessed Over 'What If'? According to Scientists, You Don't Actually Know What Would Have Fixed Everything.
Most People Don't Know These 2 Things Are Resume Red Flags. A Career Expert Reveals How to Work Around Them.
Business News

Survey: A Majority of Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Sixty-four percent of U.S. consumers live paycheck to paycheck — even those who earn more than $100,000 a year.

Business News

Massive Fire At Top Egg Farm Leaves Estimated 100,000 Hens Dead. What Does This Mean For Egg Prices?

Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut went up in flames on Saturday in an incident that is still under investigation.

Business Solutions

5 Procurement Trends To Keep on Your Radar for 2023

Procurement professionals must adapt to inflation and a shortage of skilled labor in the face of an economic recession. Investing in a workforce paired with retraining and development strategies will put your company on top amid economic uncertainty.

Business News

'This Just Can't Be for Real': Fyre Festival Fraudster Billy McFarland is Now Hiring For His New Tech Company -- And He's Already Selling Merch

McFarland was released from house arrest last September and is currently being ordered to pay $26 million in restitution to fraud victims.

Business News

Out With the Kibble and In With the Steak. The World's Richest Dog Has a Net Worth of $400 Million – And a New Netflix Docuseries Too

'Gunther's Millions' is set to unpack the pooch's mysterious fortune and what those around him have done with his inheritance.