The future of condoms is likely to be a different one if Bill Gates has anything to say about it.
You’re not alone if you’re not a huge fan of the current condom; the increasing amount of unplanned pregnancies and the continued spread of STDs each year point to the fact that a lot of people just aren’t using them or, if they are, they’re not using them correctly. You’ve heard the clichéd saying that wearing a condom is like “showering with a poncho,” which sounds like it has to be an exaggeration, but there is definitely a difference between the feeling of wearing one and the feeling of not. We’ve all dated that guy who said “it just doesn’t feel good,” and for him and others who feel the same way, suiting up before taking the plunge is something that just isn’t worth doing.
Well, Microsoft founder Gates is taking this issue very seriously (whether he can actually relate or is just trying to do humankind a major solid is debatable). Being big on philanthropy these days, he has recently given the University of Wollongong in Australia one hundred thousand dollars to develop a new and improved version of the condom. Project engineer Robert Gorkin describes it as a “next generation condom…made to act and feel more like real skin.”
The condom would be manufactured using a substance called a “hydro-gel” instead of latex, which would act to “preserve or enhance pleasure” instead of reducing it, as the latex version is so wont to do.
Don’t think that this research is being conducted just so that humanity can enjoy itself more when it’s getting its jollies. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has always been a key player in the fight to reduce the spread of HIV around the globe, so coming up with a condom that people might actually be inclined to wear is an incredibly important step in the process.
Never one to put all his eggs in one basket, Gates also held a grant competition for condom designs last year that are providing alternatives in case the hydro-gel prototype falls through. Of the 812 entries submitted, Gates and his various teams of researches currently have 11 other condom prototypes in development. Those concepts behind the prototypes include using different materials to enhance sensation, a condom that will gently tighten during intercourse, condoms that cling like saran wrap, condoms that are stronger and thinner than the current incarnation, condoms that transfer heat better, and a condom applicator that takes the guess work out of putting one on. Overall the concept is to make something that is easy to use and way more enjoyable for everyone involved. One of the plastics involved has been being researched for 25 years already.
While all the condom designs are still in development, we’re pretty sure that the world will be waiting with bated breath for the release of whichever one makes it past the prototype stage. If Gates manages to make condom use fun and sexy again, we’ll not only have him to thank for the Internet and all that comes with it, but he’ll also be able to put “saving sex from the realm of latex lameness” on his already-impressive resume, too. Bill Gates?
More like Santa Claus.