From tortoise shells to sheep intestine, linen sheaths to lamb skin, condoms have been in use for hundreds of years. But since latex was invented in 1920, no major innovation has changed they way we manufacture condoms.
Worldwide, 15 billion condoms are produced every year with 750 million estimated users, and that number is only expected to increase as condoms become more widely available in developing countries.
By the mid 1990s fear of AIDS was in decline, and the use of condoms in developed countries started to decline as well. The Grand Challenges call for proposal wants someone to invent a condom that people will actually want to use — by preserving or enhancing pleasure.
"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.
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."
The Gates Foundation is putting up $100,000 for the winning proposal to move forward into design, testing and manufacture.