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The Future of the Condom

In conjunction with our Half-Baked Design Challenge to redesign the condom, we look into some fully-baked projects shaping the future of sex.

In the latest installment of our Half-Baked Design Challenge, we gave some of our most creative friends 30 minutes to redesign the modern latex condom. Their solutions are at once absurd, profound, and probably not the answer to all our problems, so we also rounded up the fully-baked ideas at the forefront of this sexy quandary.

Daniel Resnic's Origami Condom

After a broken condom led to his own HIV diagnosis two decades ago, designer Daniel Resnic was inspired to reinvent the condom. He’s been developing his design ever since, and more in-depth research began in ear- nest after a major grant from the National Institute of Health in 2006. The “ORIGAMI Condom,” made of silicone and shaped like an accordion, mimics the feel of the human body. Because the condom moves while staying put at the base, the sensation comes from the inside. Resnic’s ultimate goal is of Holy Grail-like proportions: a condom you can’t feel. It’s also designed to be easier to put on than a rolled condom. Both male and female versions are being testing now, and should be on the market by mid-2015.

University of Washington's Disappearing Condom

This one’s for the ladies. Using electrospinning, a technique that creates nanometer-sized fibers, a group of scientists led by Kim Woodrow at the University of Washington have designed an ultra-thin female condom that can dissolve to release medicine. Drugs that help prevent HIV and provide contraception can be released within minutes or over a number of days, depending how the nano-fabric is designed. The condom can also be used to physically block sperm. Right now, researchers are testing different combina- tions of medicine, and soon will begin larger tests of the most promising variations. Like other female condoms, this design gives women the power to keep themselves healthy.

South African 4:Secs Condom

This condom is similar to others on the inside, but comes with a plastic applicator that splits in half so it can be held in each hand as someone puts it on. The designers listed above say the condom can be applied in three or four seconds—no awkward struggling to open the wrapper, no question about which end is up, and no rolling. It goes on in one swift motion, so the participating parties can cut to the chase. The 4:Secs condom is the brainchild of a South African team, where the Joint United Nations Programme reports that about 10 percent of the population lives with AIDS.

Illustrations by Thomas Porostocky.

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