The family planning aisle at your local pharmacy seems to have dozens of different options when it comes to condoms: ribbed, studded, warming, cooling, ultra-thin. But those are all just bells and whistles added on to a standard latex condom, which hasn’t changed much over the last century. That is, until researchers at Wollongong University in Australia developed hydrogel condoms, which are made from water and polymers.
They’re stronger and thinner than the latex variety and designed to feel more like human skin, rather than a barrier that could kill the mood. Brain scans showed that test subjects found the hydrogel more pleasing to the touch than latex. This pilot study is thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which hopes improvements can lead to increased condom usage, especially in areas of the world with high STI rates. Phase two of the trial should begin next year, so you’ll have to wait a bit before these show up at your neighborhood drugstore.
(h/t Sydney Morning Herald)