Is It Gluten Free? MIT Startup Uses Chemistry & IoT to Tackle Food Allergies

By Sophie Curtis on May 01, 2015

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Considering there are 15 million people in the U.S. with food allergies, a relatively overlooked area in the Internet of Things (IoT) world is how chemical sensors can provide valuable information on the content of our food. How is tracking chemistry useful? Most chemistry tracking devices, like glucose monitors, are not connected to the Internet, but there’s an emerging crop of devices that are - creating a fantastic opportunity for the medical community and consumer health.

At the Internet of Things Summit in Boston, Scott Sundvor, co-Founder of 6SensorLabs, will discuss the movement of this sector of the IoT industry and how to make this data valuable for a larger audience. Born out of MIT, 6SensorLabs was built to bring clarity and trust back to the food industry, creating a new product category that will enable anyone to quickly and discreetly detect minute traces of toxins or allergens in their food. Their first product is a portable allergen sensor, allowing you to test your food for gluten before you eat it, anywhere and at any time.

We caught up with Scott ahead of the global summit, to hear his thoughts on the latest IoT developments and 6SensorLabs' place in the connected devices revolution.

What are the key factors that have enabled recent advancements in IoT? 
Recent technological advancement has definitely had a big impact on the recent rise in IoT. What's had an even bigger impact though, is the change in consumer psychology allowing and expecting so many connected devices in everyday life.

What industries do you think will be disrupted by IoT in the future? 
Every industry! IoT has so much potential, and I think it will touch everything - health, transportation, food, energy, safety...

What are the practical applications of your work and what sectors are most likely to be affected?
6SensorLabs is using IoT to disrupt food safety and food transparency. We're starting with food allergies - our first products will give people information about potential allergens in their food (gluten, peanuts, dairy) and keep people with food allergies safe. But this is just the beginning. There's so much potential in food transparency, and our vision is just that - make what's in your food transparent to every consumer, and help people understand what impact the food and nutrients we're putting in our bodies have, so that we can keep ourselves healthy before we get sick.

What developments can we expect to see in IoT in the next 5 years?
One area that I'm passionate about is health, especially consumer health. In the next 5 years, I think we'll see a continued push of health moving from being reactive to being proactive. We'll monitor the food and nutrients we're putting in our bodies, and what impact that has on us. We'll be more aware of the science behind how their brains function, tracking brain activity, and improving mental health before issues arise. We'll track our blood chemistry, hormone levels, and our microbiomes, and start to understand what triggers to look for and how to keep ourselves healthy before we get sick. There's so much potential in health, and IoT is putting that potential into the hands of the consumer.

Which areas do you feel could benefit from cross-industry collaboration?
Design. With the rise of IoT, hardware and software is closer than ever before. Design needs to be holistic across all parts of a company, and collaboration between hardware and software design is critical. I'm excited to see closer teamwork between designers, design agencies, and even the way that design is taught in schools.

What advancements excite you most in the field?
I love to see all the advancements in rapid prototyping. There are so many modules available for BLE, Wi-Fi, etc., 3D printers, and rapid prototyping shops that allow you to quickly test and validate (or invalidate) a proof of concept. Iterations can be made quickly and with less money than just a few years ago. That said, building a hardware company is still very difficult and takes a lot of time and money, but it is definitely easier to validate the concept at the beginning.

The Internet of Things Summit is taking place in Boston on 28-29 May. For more information and to register, please visit the event website here.

Early Bird tickets end today, book now to save $200. Tickets for startups and academics are available at reduced rates. Want to send a team from your company? Email hello@re-work.co for group bookings.

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