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The Pocket-sized device that tests for food allergens


Brunel University graduate Imogen Adams created a portable allergen tester designed to help anyone with food allergies an easy go when eating out. In a conversation with Dezeen Adams said “This is far more cost-effective than the only other allergen-checking device on the market, Nima,” she said. “Nima tests for the presence of gluten, but each test retails at around £4.50, and the device itself costs £250.”

“The cost to manufacture Ally is roughly £18 and each test strip is just £0.02 to £0.03.”To use Ally, the user crushes a small food sample and a few drops of water inside a small silicone pod. They then dip a test strip into the mixture and insert the strip into a slot on the side of Ally. These strips are a modified glucose test strip, containing lactase enzyme on half their surface.

If lactose is present in the sample, the strip will change colour, with a greater level of change indicating a higher concentration of the sugar, commonly found in milk. A sensor in the device processes this information.

Adams has also designed an app to accompany the Ally device, which connects to the user’s phone via Bluetooth. The user pushes a button in the middle of the device to begin the test, which the app takes 60 seconds to process.

The test results appear in the app, but if the user would prefer to not look at their phone at the table, Ally also gives off a quick vibration to signal a positive or negative result.

The user has the additional ability to log their results in the app, share them with an online community, and leave reviews about how allergy-friendly certain restaurants are.


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