Spotlight Series: Nima CEO Shireen Yates Shares Her Thoughts on Food Transparency and AI

Shireen Yates took inspiration from her food allergies and her gluten-free diet to create Nima, which helps people living with food allergies to ensure that they are eating safely. Her aim is to create greater food transparency not just for herself, but for every person who wants–and needs–to better understand what they are putting into their bodies. She joined the panel at our AI in the Connected World event on June 30, and sat down to share some of her experiences as an entrepreneur and mentor.

One of the founding principles of Nima is food safety, which has gained significant awareness lately. How do you see food safety evolving over the next decade, and what role can technology play in that?

In the next 10 years, consumers are going to see an explosion of tools to help them make more informed decisions about what they are eating. Technology is enabling what were once lab-based food testing solutions to be faster, quicker, and more portable and accessible for consumers to use. When consumers are equipped with ways to assess food beyond menu descriptions and food labels, millions of data points will be generated to help people really know what’s in their food. These tools will bring more transparency to the supply chain and also what’s in your food.

What are some potential practical applications of AI technology that haven’t made it to consumers yet? What areas of AI do you think haven’t been fully utilized?

​I think expansively impactful are self-driving cars, and I hope we get to the point of self-cooking meals! I’m really excited about the impact of AI and how building algorithms and predictions could help remove human error in the field of health and medicine. I think we have just started to skim the surface, with AI applications helping physicians make diagnoses and even do complex surgeries.

People with food allergies and autoimmune conditions such as celiac share a common need: foods that are safe for them to eat. However, everyone differs in their digital fluency and comfort using technology. How do you make sure that your products are approachable to a wide audience?

​Our platform is designed to be very simple to use across a wide range of ages and digital fluencies. Users can use the sensor and capsule to run a test and, if they choose to, they can also share that test result with others through the Nima mobile app. Using the mobile app and the sensor together provides Nima users the most holistic and valuable experience; however, it’s not necessary to use the app to get the instant information about your food.

Do you mentor other entrepreneurial women? What advice do you share with them about turning their passions into businesses?

​I mentor both male and female entrepreneurs. I always say you should ask why until you are satisfied, and you should never be easily satisfied.

Read our other Spotlight Series Q&As from the AI in the Connected Future event:

Q&A with Ann Crady Weiss

Q&A with Renata Quintini

Q&A with Linda Pouliot

The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the interview subject and do not necessarily reflect the views of Qualcomm Ventures.