Forget fumbling around in the dark with that ill-fitting, plasticky contraption you get when you reach for a condom. Thanks to a new contest sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the condom of the future may be softer, clingier, and easier to put on than ever before.

A few months ago, the foundation released details about its latest contest — design the condom of the future. The goal, according to the foundation, is to decrease unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases with “a next-generation condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure.”

And now the results are in. From the 812 entries received, the foundation has selected 11 winners - each will receive $100,000 and a chance to further develop their idea. Steven Buchsbaum, a Gates Foundation official, said winners ranged from a condom manufacturer in India to American chemical engineers to British design consultants who previously worked with vacuum cleaners.

Many of the ideas centered around changing the material of condoms — making them stronger, thinner, smoother, and better fitting, and improving the sensation that could be felt be the wearer. Other applicants focused on ways to make it easier to put a condom on, using pull tabs or other devices. While the California Family Health Council in Los Angeles designed a "wrapping condom" that “clings like Saran Wrap rather than squeezes,” according to Ron Frezieres, the council’s vice president for research.

Foundation officials said they may pair up some of the winners to work as teams to further develop their ideas.

Source: The New York Times

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