Here’s something that may catch the attention of Fifty Shades of Grey fans out there: an electric condom. But before they get all excited, it’s not a masochistic device. The “Electric Eel” is equipped with electrodes that send mild electrical impulses up the shaft of the condom, or as its creators, two Georgia Tech students, Firaz Peer and Andrew Quitmeyer, describe it, it’s an "open-source digital condom prototype using electrodes and soft-circuitry." It comes as a contender in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Next Generation Condom” challenge, launched last March.
“Rubbers” have come a long way, long before latex form — bladders and animal membranes early on — to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Yet popular opinion has held that latex condoms reduce pleasure by diminishing sensation, so people often eschew safe sex all together. Last March, the Gates foundation sought to change that, proposing the innovative condom challenge for a $1 million prize. The contest’s winning design should enhance pleasure while also providing ease-of-use, which should, ultimately, convince more people to choose condoms over reckless, unprotected sex.
During its 400 years in use, the condom has hardly undergone any major redesigns or improvements in the last 50 years, the challenge notes. Peer and Quitmeyer developed the concept for the “Electric Eel” with those improvements in mind. “Our goal is that such explorations in design could help disease prevention while also promoting safe, exhilarating experiences for people of all sorts,” they say in the video. If manufactured, the electric condom would come in latex form, of course. The amount of electricity, which is applied in "very small" amounts could be controlled through Internet APIs or with controllers.
The prototype shown in the video below features a cucumber wrapped in an electrode-implanted fabric. Early tests consisted of conductive threads sewn into latex condoms, which Peer and Quitmeyer say shows “great promise for adding new sensations to existing condom styles.” With only 27 days left in the challenge, they've raised $950 on IndieGogo — a tad bit shy of their $10,000 goal.
For an in-depth look and awkward demo of someone testing it, watch below: