The $100,000 Condom Isn’t a Luxury Item

And Isn't Intended to Be One


“Maximum Pleasure” Condom Ad Image via

The idea of a $100,000 condom sounds like it would be a stunt from a jeweler who has figured out how to create some gold-plated, diamond studded novelty designed purely for publicity. In fact, the $100,000 condom will be the one which wins a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation for “next generation” condom design to improve usage.

The grant is one of five offered to students, scientists and entrepreneurs in partnership with Grand Challenges in Global Health.

Part of the brief:

“Condoms have been in use for about 400 years yet they have undergone very little technological improvement in the past 50 years. The primary improvement has been the use of latex as the primary material and quality control measures which allow for quality testing of each individual condom. Material science and our understanding of neurobiology has undergone revolutionary transformation in the last decade yet that knowledge has not been applied to improve the product attributes of one of the most ubiquitous and potentially underutilized products on earth. New concept designs with new materials can be prototyped and tested quickly.  Large-scale human clinical trials are not required. Manufacturing capacity, marketing, and distribution channels are already in place.” {Grand Challenges in Global Health}

Notably, proper condom use greatly reduces the transmission of STDs, and chances of unplanned pregnancies. Education has typically been seen as the key to encouraging proper condom usage, but the brief notes that education often isn’t enough.

“The one major drawback to more universal use of male condoms is the lack of perceived incentive for consistent use. 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.  Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure?  If so, would such a product lead to substantial benefits for global health, both in terms of reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and in prevention of infection with HIV or other STIs?”

In the ’90s, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of girl group TLC would regularly wear condoms as part of her costumes: and that’s probably the last time anyone tried to make safer sex cool. The person or people who can create a condom that people can get excited about (no pun intended) may not become pop stars, but would certainly be deserving of the $100k payout.

via VentureBeat


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