Kent State student fights back against childhood allergies


Jaynanne Sheehan presents her Plate Map idea at the CEBIdea Pitch Competition in the KIVA at Kent State on October 8, 2018.

Bryan Vohsing

Kent State student Jaynanne Sheehan plans to fight back against childhood allergies with Plate Map, an app that scans food and informs the user of potential allergens or dietary restrictions.

Sheehan’s Plate Map idea won first

place at this year’s CEBIdea Pitch Competition at Kent State.

The competition, hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, was held Monday in the KIVA and gave out $2,500 in total cash prizes to 10 finalists.

“Severe allergic reactions causing an emergency room visit happen to 40 percent of children with allergies,” said Sheehan, a senior entrepreneurship and computer information systems major. “Caring for these allergies is costing the United States healthcare system $25 billion every year.”

Plate Map, which uses spectrometer technology, scans a child’s plate using the camera on their phone to instantly let them know whether they are allergic to ingredients within the food they’re eating.

“It’s a way to inspire kids to use technology, which they’re very into anyways, to avoid that emergency

room visit,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan came up with the idea after struggling with food sensitivities. 

“I thought, ‘why can’t we just take a picture of our food and it tells us what’s in it?’”

After developing the technology more, the goal is to make the program fun and interactive to encourage kids to use the program when parents aren’t around.

Sheehan received $600 for her first-place victory as well as a slot in the CEBIpitch Competition coming up in the spring. This competition is for startups within the entrepreneurship program at Kent State and offers $30,000 in total cash prizes.

Sheehan plans to use her $600 to get her Plate Map idea developed as much as possible before the spring competition.

“I’m just a student,” Sheehan said. “I don’t work in nutrition, and I don’t work in technology so I’m working to get more funding and figure out how to get this technology implemented.”

Bryan Vohsing is a business and downtown/Trumbull reporter. Contact him at [email protected].