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


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.

A product shot of the Nima peanut sensor and a test capsule

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.

A hand loads a piece of an energy bar into a Nima peanut sensor capsule.

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.

6 Fun Backgrounds to Use on Your Next Video Call

You might be stuck in the living room, but it doesn't have to look like it.
You might be stuck in the living room, but it doesn't have to look like it.
Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re struggling to find a perfectly decorated wall in your house to serve as the backdrop for your video calls with friends, family, and coworkers, we have good news: Video conferencing platform Zoom lets you customize your very own virtual background.

To do it, log into your Zoom account, go to “Settings” on the left side of your screen, and choose the "Meeting" tab. Scroll down to the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section, and then scroll down farther to make sure the “Virtual background” option is enabled. After that, open the Zoom application on your desktop, click on the “Settings” wheel in the upper right corner, and go to “Virtual Background.” There are a few automatic options, but you can choose your own image from your computer files by clicking on the plus-sign icon.

Now, the only thing left to do is decide which image will best set the tone for your next video call. From the New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room to Schitt’s Creek’s Rosebud Motel, here are six of our favorites.

1. The Rosebud Motel lobby from Schitt’s Creek

schitt's creek rose motel lobby
It's not the Ritz-Carlton.

You can imagine that David is just out of frame, doing his best to carry on a silent—albeit with lots of expressive gesturing—conversation with Stevie at the front desk. (More Schitt's Creek backgrounds here.)

2. Carl and Ellie’s house from Up

carl and ellie's house from up
Balloons not included.
Walt Disney Pictures

If you’re hoping to create a calming atmosphere, look no further than the cozy little sitting room where Carl and Ellie grew old together in 2009's Up. (More Pixar backgrounds here.)

3. The attic study from Knives Out

knives out attic study
Nothing bad has ever happened here.

If your own study isn’t quite teeming with intriguing souvenirs and leather-bound volumes, feel free to borrow this one from the mansion in 2019’s Knives Out. (More Knives Out backgrounds here.)

4. The USS Enterprise from Star Trek

star trek's uss enterprise bridge
A great way to get your coworkers to fess up to being huge Trekkies., Twitter

Blame your spotty internet connection on the fact that you’re traveling through the galaxy at the speed of light with this background from the bridge of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. (More Star Trek backgrounds here.)

5. The New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room

new york public library reading room
You reserve the right to shush any coworkers who forgot to mute themselves.
New York Public Library

Bibliophiles who can’t make it to the library can still pay a virtual visit to the sumptuous Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library’s iconic Fifth Avenue location. (More New York Public Library backgrounds here.)

6. The Werk Room from RuPaul’s Drag Race

rupaul's drag race werk room
Sashay away from the screen if you're taking a bathroom break during the call.

Dazzle your coworkers by calling in from the vibrant room where all the magic—and most of the drama—happens on RuPaul’s Drag Race. If you happen to be decked out in an ensemble made entirely of things you found at the Dollar Store, even better. (More RuPaul's Drag Race backgrounds here.)

You Can Now Order—and Donate—Girl Scout Cookies Online

It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts may have temporarily suspended both cookie booths and door-to-door sales to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be deprived of your annual supply of everyone’s favorite boxed baked goods. Instead, you can now order Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and all the other classic cookies online—or donate them to local charities.

When you enter your ZIP code on the “Girl Scouts Cookie Care” page, it’ll take you to a digital order form for the nearest Girl Scouts organization in your area. Then, simply choose your cookies—which cost $5 or $6 per box—and check out with your payment and shipping information. There’s a minimum of four boxes for each order, and shipping fees vary based on quantity.

Below the list of cookies is a “Donate Cookies” option, which doesn’t count toward your own order total and doesn’t cost any extra to ship. You get to choose how many boxes to donate, but the Girl Scouts decide which kinds of cookies to send and where exactly to send them (the charity, organization, or group of people benefiting from your donation is listed on the order form). There’s a pretty wide range of recipients, and some are specific to healthcare workers—especially in regions with particularly large coronavirus outbreaks. The Girl Scouts of Greater New York, for example, are sending donations to NYC Health + Hospitals, while the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have simply listed “COVID-19 Responders” as their recipients.

Taking their cookie business online isn’t the only way the Girl Scouts are adapting to the ‘stay home’ mandates happening across the country. They’ve also launched “Girl Scouts at Home,” a digital platform filled with self-guided activities so Girl Scouts can continue to learn skills and earn badges without venturing farther than their own backyard. Resources are categorized by grade level and include everything from mastering the basics of coding to building a life vest for a Corgi (though the video instructions for that haven’t been posted yet).

“For 108 years, Girl Scouts has been there in times of crisis and turmoil,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo said in a press release. “And today we are stepping forward with new initiatives to help girls, their families, and consumers connect, explore, find comfort, and take action.”

You can order cookies here, and explore “Girl Scouts at Home” here.