6Sensor Labs Raises $4 Million Seed Round For Food Allergy Testing Device


San Francisco, Calif.-based 6Sensor Labs announces a $4 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures and supported by SoftTech VC, SK Ventures, Xandex Investments, Mitch Kapor, and Lemnos Labs. 6Sensor Labs is a member of Lemnos Lab’s hardware incubator, which focuses on bringing early-stage hardware startups through the design process and ultimately to market and commercialization. 

The startup is building a portable food analyzer that can quickly identify ingredients within a meal that may trigger an allergic reaction. The device is theoretically capable of testing for a variety of ingredients, but is focusing on gluten first, and is marketing to people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivities. The team behind the startup comes from MIT, where they worked on the project together as students. After conducting a cost-benefit analysis and technical feasibility studies, they realized that the project was achievable and had measurable market demand. 6Sensor Labs co-founder Shireen Yates, who herself struggles to maintain a gluten-free diet, explains “Most of the people we surveyed felt they got sick from cross contamination about one out every three times they dined out.”

After graduating from MIT, Shireen and co-founder Scott Sundvor participated in the MIT Global Founder’s Skills Accelerator, and then moved to San Francisco and began working full time on their device at Lemnos Labs. The sensor being designed at 6Sensor will strive to be portable, affordable, discrete, and fast. Current gluten sensors are neither fast nor portable. Current testing procedures require users to grind food with a mortar and pestle before subjecting the resulting paste to a lengthy testing process. 6Sensor is working to reduce the process to something that someone could discretely do at the table while dinning out. The team says that by placing a sample of food in a disposable pod and inserting it into the device, a reading will be ready within two minutes, detecting any gluten that registers above 20 parts per million.

The final product is shaping up for delivery sometime within 2015. The device will cost $150, and will be a paired smartphone app that will allow them to store results and upload them to a database that will be used to help others trying to maintain gluten-free diets.

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