Bluetooth Low Energy wirelessly connected gluten sensor provides rapid and accurate testing of restaurant and packaged food for allergens

Courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor

‘Nima’ employs Nordic Semiconductor’s Bluetooth Low Energy nRF51822 SoC to wirelessly sync test data to smartphones and tablets

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that San Francisco, CA-based Nima has released its ‘Nima’ gluten sensor, a Bluetooth® Low Energy wirelessly connected device that tests food for the presence of allergens in just a few minutes. Nima employs Nordic’s multiple award-winning nRF51822 System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity between the device and Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphones and tablets.

Nima uses antibody-based chemistry to test samples of food for the proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye that causes reactions for people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, or gluten sensitivities. In operation the user places a small sample of food into a disposable test capsule, inserts the capsule into the Nima device, and pushes a button to begin testing. After three minutes the device will notify the user if gluten has been detected in the test sample. The device was designed to detect gluten in food samples at 20 parts per million (ppm) or above with 99 percent accuracy. If it detects gluten at any level, even below 20 ppm, the result will read “Gluten Found”.

Using Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity provided by the nRF51822 SoC, captured data is synced to the accompanying Nima iOS and Android app, allowing users to save their test results and share them with the Nima community, rating food and restaurants based on how gluten-free friendly they are. In the absence of a smartphone, test results are stored locally on the Nima device until the next opportunity to download them.

Nima employs a 300mAh rechargeable Li-ion polymer battery that can achieve more than 30 tests between recharge—or six months in sleep mode—thanks in part to the ultra-low power consumption of the Nordic SoC.

Nordic’s nRF51822 is a powerful and flexible multiprotocol SoC ideally suited for Bluetooth LE and 2.4GHz ultra low-power wireless applications. The nRF51822 is built around a 32-bit ARM® Cortex™ M0 CPU, 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio, and 256kB/128kB Flash and 32kB/16kB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S130 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 4.2 qualified concurrent multi-link protocol stack solution supporting simultaneous Central/Peripheral/Broadcaster/Observer role connections.

“When we looked at our wireless connectivity options we opted for Bluetooth LE because of the simplicity of the protocol, the low power consumption, and the compatibility with a wide range of devices and smartphones,” says Scott Sundvor, Nima Chief Product Officer and Co-founder. “Specifically we went with Nordic’s nRF51822 SoC because of the combination of the ARM Cortex M0 CPU with the 2.4GHz radio in one small package.

“On top of which the Nordic SoftDevice, reference designs, and nRF51 development kit helped reduce our time to market, and our development costs.”

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