The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation challenged scientists earlier this year to build a safer condom that would be more pleasurable to wear and encourage more consistent use to prevent HIV infections and unplanned pregnancies. Last month the philanthropy gave $100,000 grants to 11 of the more than 800 applicants. Successful projects will be eligible for additional funding of as much as $1 million.

Photograph by Jeff Minton/Gallery Stock

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation challenged scientists earlier this year to build a safer condom that would be more pleasurable to wear and encourage more consistent use to prevent HIV infections and unplanned pregnancies. Last month the philanthropy gave $100,000 grants to 11 of the more than 800 applicants. Successful projects will be eligible for additional funding of as much as $1 million.

Photograph by Jeff Minton/Gallery Stock

Innovation: Next-Gen Condoms

Gates Foundation Grants
Gates Foundation Grants

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation challenged scientists earlier this year to build a safer condom that would be more pleasurable to wear and encourage more consistent use to prevent HIV infections and unplanned pregnancies. Last month the philanthropy gave $100,000 grants to 11 of the more than 800 applicants. Successful projects will be eligible for additional funding of as much as $1 million.

Photograph by Jeff Minton/Gallery Stock
Graphene
Graphene

Innovator Lakshminarayanan Ragupathy
Title Scientist at HLL Lifecare, a government-owned health-care business in Kerala, India

What’s new Graphene
This much-heralded substance, a form of carbon, is the strongest, thinnest material ever produced. It also conducts heat, enhancing sensitivity, Ragupathy says.

Illustration by 731
Removable Tabs
Removable Tabs

Innovator Ron Frezieres
Title Vice president for research and evaluation at the nonprofit California Family Health Council in Los Angeles

What’s new Removable tabs
Removable tabs can help slide this clingy polyethylene condom on “like a sock,” says Frezieres, who is working with a manufacturer in Bogotá.

Illustration by 731
Collagen
Collagen

Innovator Mark McGlothlin
Title President and chief executive officer of Apex Medical Technologies in San Diego

What’s new Collagen
Fibers from bovine tendon make the condom feel more like human skin for both partners. “It doesn’t feel like rubber or plastic,” McGlothlin says.

Illustration by 731
Form Fit
Form Fit

Innovator Ben Strutt
Title Head of design at Cambridge Design Partnership in the U.K.

What’s new Form fit
To develop a “genuine, one-size-fits-all” product, Strutt’s team will test polymers designed to exert less initial pressure on the wearer and gently tighten during sex.

Illustration by 731
Extreme Elastics
Extreme Elastics

Innovator Jimmy Mays
Title Chemistry professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville

What’s new Extreme elastics
New materials called superelastomers “can stretch more than any rubbery material that’s ever been used as a condom” and recover their initial shape, Mays says. He plans to share samples with a German manufacturer.

Illustration by 731
Water Wall
Water Wall

Innovators Karen Buch and Ducksoo Kim
Titles Radiology resident at Boston Medical Center; professor of radiology at Boston University School of Medicine

What’s new Water wall
A special coating, inspired by catheter technology, reduces friction to limit discomfort and breakage. Protective drugs can also be bound into the “water wall,” Buch says.

Illustration by 731