Australian engineers have created the next generation condom

Dr Robert Gorkin (centre) and his team. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Australian biomedical engineer Dr Robert Gorkin, and his team at the University of Wollongong, have created the next generation condom.

Having already attracted funding from more than 50 significant investors, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gorkin is now seeking additional funding to turn the experiment into a product.

This new type of condom is made from a hydrogel material, a substance similar to contact lenses. The material can stretch to over 1000 times its initial size, feels more lifelike and also provides more protection than a latex condom.

The biggest challenge facing Gorkin and his team in turning the condom into a mainstream product is the infrastructure needed to manufacture it in bulk quantities.

“There are existing supply networks of latex and major manufacturing but these are synthetic materials so they’re made a different way,” Gorkin told the ABC.

“We don’t think the cost will be too much more in the long run, but it will take time.”

Until then the engineers will be undertaking clinical trials to see whether an anti-HIV drug can be embedded into the material, or even chemicals which enhance sex.

The hyrdogel material. Photo: Project GELdom.

According to the Project GELdom website, by re-imagining the condom not only will it answer the specific challenges in local and international communities but it will provide a design that excites and motivates use.

“We will tie the research in materials development and in community engagement, to the theories around aesthetics, function and form. This helps us move beyond purely engineering-driven product development to create insightful and useful products that can be manufactured effectively,” the website says.

The latex condom was invented in the 1920s but innovation has not revolutionised the product. Gorkin hopes to change this.

Project GELdom is seeking further funding through Thinkable, an online crowdfunding platform which raises money for scientific research and development.

So far the project has attracted $14,849, just short of their $15,000 goal.

More here.

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