15 million children and adults in the United States alone have life-threatening food allergies, often involving common food items and ingredients from peanuts to milk protein. There is no outward indication that these people are susceptible to a potentially deadly reaction, making it difficult for everyone from classroom teachers to food service workers to know about their condition.
AllerGuarder is a company that believes that they have a piece of the solution. They have created at wristband that people with allergies can wear. This creates a Bluetooth-powered beacon that can issue an alert to anyone within a 50 foot radius. People who work with people who have allergies can download a free app for their smartphone or tablet that notifies them that a person nearby has an allergy. The app details the type of allergy, and also can provide emergency contacts. You can also control what information is shared, making the details available only to “trusted friends.” This is an important feature for parents of children with allergies, who may not want to broadcast personal information about their child.
This device makes a lot of sense and is a good step in the right direction, but it requires that all people responsible for the care of an allergic child (or adult) has installed the app and understands the information that it provides. This probably will be more effective in a closed environment — such as a school — where the administration can require all staff to monitor the AllerGuarder app. It will likely take a long time (if ever) before this is adopted widely by food service workers and others. Even so, responsibility is going to remain with the individual, and those responsible for them, to remain vigilant about potential risks.