real life

Bill Gates wants to give you $1 million to design a better condom.


Condoms haven’t really changed much in the last, oh, forever.

Sure, now they come in a variety of flavours, colours and textures (vibrating, anyone?) but the basic principle of rubbery-sperm-stopping-ness remains the same.

Condoms are used by millions of people across the world (750 million people, in fact) and it’s a pretty unconcious, run of the mill thing for most of us here in the comfort of the first world.

But in the third? It’s not just about a fear of chlamydia or herpes (although, that’s serious enough in and of itself). No. In the third world, where HIV rates can be as high as 20 per cent – this is a matter of life and death. Encouraging people to wear and use condoms is absolutely critical.

And given that the usage rate just isn’t going up the way we’d like it to be, one man has decided it’s time for a redesign.

Enter: the saviour of sex for this generation. The lord of lovemaking. The messiah who is committed to increasing male pleasure. (And decreasing HIV, so all credit to him).

Bill Gates.

The founder of Microsoft (very big and profitable company, perhaps you’ve heard of them?) is offering up $100,000 of initial funding, followed by the opportunity to earn $1 million of continued funding, to the individual who can pitch him an idea for “the next generation of condoms”.

Condoms 2.0, if you will.

It’s a whole lot more exciting (and lucrative) than your grade 6 ‘build a volcano’ competition, that’s for sure.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – a philanthropic organisation dedicated to enhancing healthcare and reducing extreme poverty worldwide – are concerned by the rapidly rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, and have decided to tackle the problem head-on.

The saviour of sex for this generation. The lord of lovemaking. Bill Gates.

While their mission statement of trying to encourage “development and testing of new condom shapes/designs that may provide an improved user experience” may not sound like the sexiest of briefs (pun intended), the Foundation is dedicated to ensuring sexual satisfaction.

The foundation have identified three main problems with modern-day condoms:

1. From the male perspective, they decrease pleasure during sex.

2. They can be expensive.

3. They are not user-friendly.

The Foundation says:

“The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom.”

“[Female condoms] suffer some of the same liabilities as male condoms, require proper insertion training and are substantially more expensive than their male counterparts.”

So, the next generation of condoms must increase pleasurable sensations (for the sake of GLOBAL SEXUAL HEALTH, obviously), be cheap as chips, and more user-friendly than a Mac laptop (sorry, Bill).

The Foundation will be judging proposals by the criteria of, “a testable hypothesis, an associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated and yield interpretable and unambiguous data.”

This challenge to invent a better and sexier close-fitting rubber covering is part of the Foundation’s ‘Grand Challenges and Explorations’ scheme, which is a series of challenges designed to improve the lives of people living in the world’s poorest regions.

So. Over to you. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT?!?!? Let’s win this million, hey MM?

What features would your competition winning condom have?