Gates Foundation Funds First Phase of Next Gen Super Condoms

LOS ANGELES—In March, AVN reported on the Condom Challenge initiated by the Gates Foundation, which believes that the next generation of condoms will save many lives. The current problem with condoms, it argued, is that while they have been used for 400 years, the last technical improvements made to them were 50 years ago.

"The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable, particularly given that the decisions about use must be made just prior to intercourse," added the Foundation. "Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure?”

More than a few people thought they were up to the challenge. More than 500 submissions were evaluated during the first phase of the Condom Challenge, which identified 11 ideas as worthy of receiving $100,000 in development grants.

"These projects are working to improve uptake and regular use of male and female condoms by developing new condoms that significantly preserve or enhance pleasure and by developing better packaging or designs that are easier to properly use," said the Foundation in a press release issued yesterday on the newest grants handed out for a variety of challenges.

The release identified two ideas receiving grants:

* Benjamin Strutt and a team from Cambridge Design Partnership in the United Kingdom will design a male condom out of a composite material that will provide a universal fit and is designed to gently tighten during intercourse, enhancing sensation and reliability.

* Willem van Rensburg of Kimbranox Ltd. in South Africa will test a condom applicator, the Rapidom, which is designed for easy, technique-free application of male condoms. Kimbranox will test an applicator designed to be applied with one motion, thereby minimizing interruption.

Some of the other ideas are covered in an article on, which also noted, "In 12 to 18 months time, it will make a further assessment, and award up to $1 million to projects it feels can make it to market (we'll be surprised if it's the one made from 'bovine tendons' but you never know)." The article contains photos of some of he condom ideas, as well as a few illustrations.

Gizmodo also took note of one of the ideas blessed with Gates Foundation support, a condom made with graphene, a remarkable material that is "virtually indestructible and only one atom thick, it's also high conductive— which means that body heat generated during sex would translate quite nicely."

The article also included a quote by Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan, the materials scientist who's leading the research, who said of the material, "Currently, people imagine using graphene in mobile-phone screens, food packaging and chemical sensors. If this project is successful, we might have a use for graphene which will touch our everyday life in the most intimate way."