Bill Gates, super rich geek and world-class philanthropist, is putting his money where his dick is. He wants someone to invent a better condom. It's something we've all thought about, or even said aloud, in the abstract. But Gates is actually ponying up $100,000, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to the inventor who develops "the next generation condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure."
The contest is part of Gates' Grand Challenges organization, a family of grant programs that "focuses on 16 major global health challenges with the aim of engaging creative minds across scientific disciplines." The global health problem to be tackled through this challenge is the stopping the spread of AIDS/HIV, with the idea being that if technological improvements were made so that condoms are more pleasurable and easier to properly apply, perhaps people would use them more regularly:
The one major drawback to more universal use of male condoms is the lack of perceived incentive for consistent use. The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable, particularly given that the decisions about use must be made just prior to intercourse. Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure? If so, would such a product lead to substantial benefits for global health, both in terms of reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and in prevention of infection with HIV or other STIs?
While the startup grant is $100,000, it could lead to $1 million in additional funding. So get to work!