AS DESIGNS GO, the condom is fairly basic and has never really changed.
Given that the need for, and use of, them has exploded in the last 40 years, it seems strange that there hasn’t been much of an effort to change the simple barrier system.
Last March, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation called for entries to a competition that could revolutionise how condoms are viewed.
“The common analogy is that wearing a condom is like taking a shower with a raincoat on,” Dr. Papa Salif Sow, a senior program officer at the Gates Foundation, said at the time of the competition’s launch.
“A redesigned condom that overcomes inconvenience, fumbling, or perceived loss of pleasure would be a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty.”
Here are the ideas:
1. The leather condom
Mark McGlothlin at Apex Medical Technologies came up with a novel way of making condoms more sensitive for men. He reckons that the material is all wrong. McGlothlin’s plan envisages replacing latex with collagen fibres from beef tendon.
The cheap, readily available leftovers are thin, strong and transfer heat well.
2. One size fits all
The idea of a condom shrinking during sex sounds utterly horrific. But Benjamin Strutt at the Cambridge Design Partnership thinks it is the best idea for the future of contraception.
His idea involves a material that gets stronger when force is applied and “gently tightens”, making it feel invisible and reduce the chance of leaking.
3. Cling film
The California Health Council’s Ron Frezieres says that his aim was for a cling-film like condom.
Based on a South American prototype, the condom clings to the penis, rather than covering it. The prototype includes an oil-based lubricant, which Frezieres wants to change for a silicone-based one.
4. Handy handles
Putting on a condom has long vexed men. Even practicing on a banana didn’t help.
But South African Willem van Rensburg at Kimbranox has that idea sorted. We’ll let the video explain.
5. Hot, hot heat
India’s Lakshminarayanan Ragupathy has a burning passion for this project. His graphene condom conducts heat. This makes the condom thinner, strong and more flexible. Which is nice.
6. Second skin
Making condoms like a second skin is a prevalent theme in the designs. Northwestern University’s Patrick Kiser says he’s going to create a new material that would “improve sensation” and be similar to lubricated skin.
7. Cloak of invisibility
Aravind Vijayaraghavan at the University of Manchester is also on the graphene bandwagon. His material plans to have pleasure in mind. But also plans to be “nearly indestructible. Which is nice.
8. Super what?
A “a super-hydrophilic nanoparticle coating” is what sets Karen Buch and Ducksoo Kim’s design apart.
Apparently it will create a thin layer of lubrication, which will stop breakages. Which is important.
9. Is it even there?
According to Jimmy Mays of the University of Tennessee, his design will make you feel like you’re wearing nothing at all.
The material used is soft, thin and has the same texture as human skin. Which sounds kind of gross.
10. Put it on
Not so much a condom idea, but Australian duo Michael Rutner and Russell Burley tackle problem of putting a condom on with your hands.
They propose creating a universal condom applicator. It would be sold with condoms and would properly put a condom on a man, without tearing holes, thus avoiding any mishaps.
11. Memory foam
The idea of Richard Chartoff at the University of Oregon is mould the condom to the penis.
His design would be half as thin as latex and would contract to the user’s shape using body heat.