After receiving a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last summer, researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia have been working on a next-generation skin-like condoms made out of tough hydrogels.
Dr. Robert Gorkin, the project lead, and his team of materials and microbiology experts, are researching the potential applications of the tough hydrogels which are used in contacts for instance, to create skin-like condoms to increase the uptake of condom usage in places such as Africa.
“Imagine if we could make a condom that you couldn’t wait to put on, or what if you could make a condom that actually improves sex—how fantastic would that be!” Dr Gorkin tells PSFK.com.
“Lack of sensation is a well documented attribute that condoms have been associated with them and one we are trying to overcome,” says Gorkin. “I have not met anyone that says, ‘oh yeah condoms feel perfect!’”
The team is currently testing the durability of their new condoms compared to traditional latex condoms. So far, the team has seen positive results. Researchers are also testing other ways to make hydgrogels more pleasurable, such as including features that would make condoms self-lubrication or pleasuring-enhancing pharmaceuticals built into the condom.
“We can potentially load certain molecules into the condom itself,” says Gorkin.