Nima is a very portable gluten testing device that could potentially alter the way that diners with gluten sensitivity encounter the world of restaurants.
(Nima gluten sensor video)
Restaurants, office parties, potlucks, meals while traveling -- they're a minefield for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity who can suffer from stomach pain and upset, swollen joints, and other debilitating health problems when they ingest even a little bit of gluten.
The maker of a new handheld gluten-detecting device hopes to help make eating outside of a gluten-sensitive individual's own kitchen safer and easier.
The company, 6SensorLabs, has started taking pre-orders for the device it calls Nima, which can test food for gluten and get rapid results, said co-founder and chief technology officer Scott Sundvor.
Nima is not FDA-approved and it's not intended for medical use, but the company intends it as a "consumer" tool to use when dining out, Sundvor said.
"One of the things that we wanted to make sure we distinguish is that we don't see ourselves as a medical device," Sundvor told CBS News. "So we do not need FDA clearance for the device because we are not using it to diagnose or manage disease. We're simply providing a product to help people know what's in their food and guide their habits."
Foods containing gluten are poison for those with celiac sprue and those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Fans of Dune, the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, are familiar with the poison snoopers used to detect poison in the drink (chaumurky):
Paul saw his father in the doorway, avoided his eyes. He looked around at the clusterings of guests, the jeweled hands clutching drinks (and the unobtrusive inspections with tiny remote-cast snoopers)...
Pausing in the doorway to inspect the arrangements, the Duke thought about the poison-snooper and what it signified in his society. All of a pattern, he thought. You can plumb us by our language--the precise and delicate delineations for ways to administer treacherous death. Will someone try chaumurky tonight--poison in the drink?