The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering a $100,000 grant to anyone who can create a better condom.
The foundation's new initiative hopes to develop a next-generation condom that "significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use." In other words, if it feels good to use, more people will use them.
Inventors are invited to use new materials, redesign the shape, or use any other methods to inspire people to want to use condoms. Other important attributes include making male and female condoms easier to use, with simpler packaging.
A post on the foundation's blog "Impatient Optimists," one condom maker, Origami Condoms, is cited as an excellent example of new condom design. The company has invented three silicon condoms, including one designed for anal intercourse. Researchers at the University of Washington are also working to develop a condom using a technique called electrospinning, which creates tightly woven fabric out of nanometer-sized polymer strands.
According to WebMD, about 15 billion condoms are made every year and used by about 750 million people around the world.