The next generation of condoms may soon roll out, thanks to a boost from Bill Gates.
The tech icon's Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored a contest that challenged innovators to create a more comfortable, functional condom and this week awarded $100,000 grants to 11 winning ideas.
Among them: a universal fit condom that tightens during intercourse, and the "Rapidom," an applicator that allows men to don the device in one smooth motion.
Then there's the "wrapping condom" proposed by the California Family Health Council, which employs polyethylene, a material that "wraps and clings rather than squeezes."
Other winners also brainstormed with high-tech materials, including University of Tennessee chemistry professor Jimmy Mays, whose design involves superelastomers, polymers that won't tear or deform as easily as materials like latex. Superelastomer condoms would be thinner, softer and less expensive to make, according to the proposal.
A research team from the University of Manchester plans to craft condoms using graphene, a carbon material touted as the world's thinnest, strongest and most conductive. Graphene would be combined with latex or a similar material "to produce a new material which can be thinner, stronger, more stretchy, safer and, perhaps most importantly, more pleasurable,” research team leader Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan said.
University of Oregon scientist Richard Chartoff won a grant for his one-size-fits-all condom, made of heat-activated polymers that also contain drugs to protect against sexually transmitted infections.
The Gates Foundation announced its contest in March, with the aim to find “a next-generation condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure” - which in turn would prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases around the world.
"We acknowledge that we have condoms today that are very effective. But they have a drawback, where they have diminished sexual pleasure for the user," Stephen Ward, a program officer for the foundation, told the Daily News at the time.
"It may seem like a small thing, but it prevents people from using them consistently. The more we can get people to be more consistent, the better," Ward added
The winning designs were selected from a total of 812 applicants. The ideas that show the most promise after further development will be awarded an additional $1 million.
Other grants in the Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative were awarded in the areas of information management for social good, labor productivity solutions for small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, detection and treatment of tropical diseases, and interspecies disease and vaccination.
Source : http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/better-condom-designs-awarded-100k-gates-foundation-article-1.1525204