If you were to ask any parent of a kid with food allergies what their biggest fear is, there’s a good chance the answer would be “other people feeding our kids”. Realistically, we can’t expect everyone to grasp allergy awareness like we do. But Allerguarder has a clever way to ease worries and remind caretakers of dangerous food allergies!
Allerguarder is a two part system to keep kids with food allergies a little bit safer. Part one is a bracelet with a Bluetooth chip inside, which the child with allergies wears. Part two is a smartphone app, where the app notifies a user if a child with allergies is nearby. Parents can adjust how much information a third party learns from the Bluetooth beacon, so close family and friends can get detailed information, including emergency contacts and instructions, while someone who is not vetted by the app simply gets a generic notification that a person with [list of allergies] is nearby. Allerguarder’s vision is that schools and parents could install the app, allowing them to be reminded of when to be vigilant for food allergy risks.
The founder of Allerguarder, Avram Weisman, said he came up with the idea for it after two of his children were diagnosed with nut and sesame allergies that were increasing in severity. On top of that, one of his kids had an allergic reaction after a friend’s parent accidentally let her have a cookie with peanut butter, simply because in the moment she forgot about the child’s allergies.
As Avram said, “ideally, each kid would have a sign over their head that said ‘Allergic to:…'” Since that’s not possible, Allerguarder leverages the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets to accomplish a similar task. The app is free, and doesn’t require the downloader to share any information, so it’s easy to ask others to simply have it installed on their phone. Down the road, the hope is to have restaurants integrate the Allerguard system as well; not only would this serve as a signal to families with allergies that it’s a safe spot, but it would allow chefs and kitchens a heads up before the order is even placed that they will need to implement an allergy protocol.
It was clear from speaking with Avram that Allerguarder is a passion project born from his desire to protect his children, as well as other kids with food allergies. He pointed out that because his first few kids didn’t have food allergies, he was aware of them but not as hyperaware as he is now, and he wants parents and caretakers to be able to be vigilant on demand via the notifications. I completely understand his logic, because it echoes my own experience as a parent before and after my son’s diagnosis with food allergies. Even though I have a food allergy myself (seafood), it was never on my radar the way it is now that I have to worry about my son. We have to send out long, detailed emails to family and friends before big gatherings to remind them about his food allergies, and we never leave the house without “safe” snacks. Nothing is guaranteed 100%, but the idea that someone would know immediately upon meeting my kiddo about his allergies is comforting, because it adds another layer of vigilance, never a bad thing when dangerous allergies are involved.
Feedback so far on the bracelets has been that kids like them because they seem trendy and very Fitbit/fitness tracker-like; the plan for future versions may include integrating a watch as well. Allerguarder is offering numerous colors, as well as additional charms that can be clipped to the band listing the specific allergies. I think it’s a great idea to make them in multiple colors, since the more accessory-like they are, the more likely it is that kids will be willing to wear them!
The bracelets will retail for $54.99, but you can back them on Kickstarter for as low as $30! If you or anyone you know cares for a kid with food allergies, please give serious thought to backing Allerguarder, and if you don’t deal directly with allergies, download the app-you never know when it might protect someone’s life!