Researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia are working on a next-generation condom that feels like skin.
The project was funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which gave $100,000 to about a dozen such projects, challenging them to build a condom people actually wouldn’t mind using.
Bill Gates talked about the condom project during an ask-me-anything session on Reddit last February. While the work is serious, helping to end the spread of AIDS, like everyone else, he couldn’t resist cracking a joke about it, saying:
“This is a sensitive topic. The idea was that men don’t like the current design so perhaps something they would be more open to would allow for less HIV transmission. We still haven’t gotten the results.”
So here’s a closer look at one project, shown off in a progress-report video published this week.
The researchers call this new material a “tough hydro-gel” which they say can “act, feel and look more like real skin.”
A hydrogen-based material feels soft but can also be strong, keeping it from breaking, as latex condoms are prone to do.