Condoms are a multibillion dollar industry based on a product that is both cheap to produce and valuable in terms of its utility. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 46 percent of unmarried, sexually-active males between the ages of 15 and 44 use condoms. Often the dislike of condoms is attributed to their interference with sensation. Poor fit, allergic reactions, and general unattractiveness are other common complaints. Basically, people view condoms as a bit of a buzzkill.
"The key would be to develop something that is going to improve the sensation of sex and improve the experience between two people so that they voluntarily want to use it," says Ron Frezieres, vice president of research and evaluation at the California Family Health Council. Thanks in large part to a grant challenge set forth by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this is the exact type of thinking that dozens of researchers around the world are doing in an attempt to create completely new types of condoms. The goal is simple — to increase the use of condoms in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STDs — but attaining it is taking top effort from some of the world's most innovative and forward thinkers.