Next-Gen Condoms Could Feel Like Human Skin
The reinvention of condoms is a task that has faced humanity for centuries actually, but researchers at the University of Wollongong might have created the most-appealing next-gen prophylactic yet. Researchers are working to replace latex with "tough hydrogels," a biomaterial that is similar to what you find in contact lenses.
The self-lubricated substance possesses a "stiffness similar to body tissues," allowing it to potentially confer greater sensitivity. Hydrogels can also be made transparent and biodegradable to enable environmentally friendly disposal.
Led by Dr. Robert Gorkin, the team plans to identify potential hydrogels and a suitable "material composition" before examining their breaking strength, toughness, feel, permeability, and other properties. The researchers hope to eventually have people moving from "having to" to "wanting to" use this contraceptive method. "It’s really about us challenging our own perceptions, particularly when developing new technologies to be deployed in places like sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia," says Gorken in a statement.
The University of Wollongong's efforts are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is offering grants to those aiming to create the "next generation condoms." Should Gorkin's team achieve its goals, it may be awarded a $1 million follow-up grant.
(h/t: Gaily Grind)