When it comes to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, here is a sobering statistic: only 5 percent of men worldwide use condoms.
So how do we change that? Public health campaigns have been ineffective. So the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation issued a grand challenge to design “a next-generation condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure.” In other words, the bet the foundation is making is that condoms were able to enhance, rather than dull pleasure, significantly more people would use them.
812 applications later, the foundation has selected 11 winners who will be awarded $100,000 with the opportunity to receive up to $1 million.
So what did the condom innovators come up with?
One product could possibly be made from fish skin that is very strong but also feels like human skin. Other designs focused on materials with “shape memory” that would conform to an individual man’s anatomy. Still other designs tackled the ease-of-use problem, making condoms easier to put on as well as see in the dark.
Read more about the Gates Foundation’s grand challenge here.