New Sensor Can Alert You to Peanut Traces in Your Food in Real Time

Nima
Nima

When you have a serious allergy, sussing out what foods are safe and what foods aren’t is harder than you might think. For people allergic to peanuts, the consequences of taking a chance on a particular food can be dire. Some people experience anaphylaxis within seconds of eating peanuts, even if it’s just trace amounts. But trying to eat exclusively certified allergen-free foods can be next to impossible, unless you plan on carrying a full supply of snacks everywhere you go. Nima, a portable sensor for allergens, can help.

Nima is designed to be used at the dinner table, so that you can test the food you’re about to eat. The company debuted the sensor as a solution for people with gluten allergies in 2017, but now, it’s expanding its offerings: There’s a Nima for peanut allergies, too.

Nima

The device works like this: You take a small, pea-sized sample of whatever food you’re hoping to eat, and shove it into one of Nima’s one-time-use capsules, which look sort of like a slim canister for a roll of film. Tighten the lid, stick the capsule inside the device, and turn it on. The device will whirl and click for a few minutes, then a symbol will appear on the thin LED screen on the side. It will show either a happy face (no allergens!) or, in the case of peanut allergens, a little drawing of a peanut with the words “Peanut Found.” You can then go into the associated app and log what you tested and the results, so that people around you can also see that, for instance, the muffins at that particular cafe are contaminated with peanuts.

The Nima peanut sensor can detect 10 parts per million of peanut protein (the lowest effect level observed in clinical studies), while the gluten sensor can detect gluten levels of 20 parts per million or more (the cutoff the FDA uses to decide what foods can be labeled “gluten free”). Unfortunately for those who are both gluten- and peanut-free, you can’t use one sensor to test for both types of allergens.

Nima

As a prevention method, Nima isn’t perfect. In certain cases, like if the food is sitting in a display case with other foods, it’s possible that the piece of the food you’re testing doesn’t contain any allergens, but another part of it has been contaminated. The company recommends that you still carry an EpiPen for emergencies, and do your due diligence before eating. But it can provide a little extra peace of mind for people with strict dietary restrictions—or at least a good warning signal.

The device is small enough to carry around in a purse or a jacket pocket, and can rest in the palm of your hand. It's easy enough for a kid to use, and sleek enough to not call too much attention to itself if you’re testing out your dish in front of an entire restaurant. And it's convenient enough that you’ll actually go ahead and do that.

The Nima peanut sensor is $229.99 on its own, or you can buy a starter pack for $289.99, which comes with the sensor and 12 testing capsules.

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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The Reason Dogs Are Terrified of Thunderstorms—And How You Can Help

The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Deafening thunder can be a little scary even for a full-grown human who knows it’s harmless, so your dog’s terror is understandable. But why exactly do thunderstorms send so many of our pawed pals into a tailspin?

Many dogs are distressed by unexpected loud noises—a condition known as noise aversion, or noise phobia in more severe cases—and sudden thunderclaps fall into that category. What separates a wailing siren or fireworks show from a thunderstorm in a dog's mind, however, is that dogs may actually realize a thunderstorm is coming.

As National Geographic explains, not only can dogs easily see when the sky gets dark and feel when the wind picks up, but they can also perceive the shift in barometric pressure that occurs before a storm. The anxiety of knowing loud noise is on its way may upset your dog as much as the noise itself.

Static electricity could also add to this anxiety, especially for dogs with long and/or thick hair. Tufts University veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, who also co-founded the Center for Canine Behavior Studies, told National Geographic that a static shock when brushing up against metal may heighten your dog’s agitation during a storm.

It’s difficult to nail down why each dog despises thunderstorms. As Purina points out, one could simply be thrown off by a break from routine, while another may be most troubled by the lightning. In any case, there are ways to help calm your stressed pet.

If your dog’s favorite spot during a storm is in the bathroom, they could be trying to stay near smooth, static-less surfaces for fear of getting shocked. Suiting them up in an anti-static jacket or petting them down with anti-static dryer sheets may help.

You can also make a safe haven for your pup where they’ll be oblivious to signs of a storm. Purina behavior research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan suggests draping a blanket over their crate, which can help muffle noise. For dogs that don’t use (or like) crates, a cozy room with drawn blinds and a white noise machine can work instead.

Consulting your veterinarian is a good idea, too; if your dog’s thunderstorm-related stress is really causing issues, an anti-anxiety prescription could be the best option.

[h/t National Geographic]