The Grand Challenges in Global Health (GCGH) is an initiative started by fellow non-believers Bill & Melinda Gates and their charitable foundation to provide research grants for ongoing issues most pressing in the developing or undeveloped world: disease, starvation, nutrition, and infant mortality. Last month’s topic focused on the “next generation condom”, with special focus on their ease of regular use for both genders, better disease prevention, and overall design enhancements to provide incentive for their use over no condom at all.
We are looking for a Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use. Additional concepts that might increase uptake include attributes that increase ease-of-use for male and female condoms, for example better packaging or designs that are easier to properly apply. In addition, attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired. Proposals must (i) have a testable hypothesis, (ii) include an associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated, and (iii) yield interpretable and unambiguous data in Phase I, in order to be considered for Phase II funding.
A few examples of work that would be considered for funding:
- Application of safe new materials that may preserve or enhance sensation;
- Development and testing of new condom shapes/designs that may provide an improved user experience;
- Application of knowledge from other fields (e.g. neurobiology, vascular biology) to new strategies for improving condom desirability.
Ray Chavez, president of Origami, has stepped up to the challenge to introduce three new types of condoms designed to meet 21st century needs in terms of usage and desirability: male, female, and R.A.I (receptive anal intercourse). Each have unique design features to optimize their efficacy; for example, the male condom slides on easily, and is both pleated and internally lubricated to provide friction that more closely simulates the vaginal environment. (Is that even a phrase?) Here’s a bit from their website:
The OMC is a structurally engineered silicone design that validated in this application at 100% biocompatible and 100% viral-impermeable. The OMC does not require unrolling. The penis easily slides into the folded OMC before intercourse.
The folded design provides two important innovative advantages:
1. Easy donning method slides the condom onto the penis in 2.8 seconds,
2. Consistent expansion/contraction of the condom provides a natural reciprocating motion of the penis inside the lubricated condom.
Clinical trials are ongoing, and all three types are supposed to hit the market – with any luck – by the beginning of 2015. Not sure when they’d be sent en masse to hard-hit places like Africa, but I’m sure that will happen shortly after their approval.
Though the 12-year old kid that’s still kicking around in my head can’t help but imagine this thing sounding like an accordion during every thrust … sort of like the sound Wiley E. Coyote would make while walking away after falling off a cliff and landing on his feet.
As innovative and as promising as this sounds, I really wish Bill and Melinda threw some money in this guy’s direction. Behold, the condom applicator slingshot gun:
My knees just slammed together after watching it again.