Update: MTV News interviewed the young inventors here about how exactly the condom works.
Condoms have long come in a wide variety of colors, but recently a group of teenagers in the U.K. developed an idea for a new spin on the traditional prophylactic that may forever change the way you wrap it up.
Students Musaz Nawaz, Daanyaal Ali and Chirag Shah from London’s Isaac Newton Academy won the top prize in the Health Category of the TeenTech Awards — a contest that challenges scientifically-minded students to devise “technology that will make life better, simpler, or easier” — for envisioning the S.T.EYE. It’s a condom that would change color if the person using it has an STI, so both partners could be aware of it.
A TechTeen spokesperson stressed to MTV News that “their idea is very much a concept and is not a finalised design,” but added that other winners’ ideas have been patented and are expected to go to market. (Other winning ideas from this year include everything from “an airship to transport aid to areas of natural disasters” to “shoes designed to harness energy generated by walking to charge devices on-the-go.”)
Improving lives through technology is exactly what these students had in mind.
“We created the S.T.EYE as a new way for STI detection to help the future of the next generation,” said 14-year-old Ali in a press release. “We wanted to make something that made detecting harmful STIs safer than ever before, so that people can take immediate action in the privacy of their own homes without the often-scary procedures at the doctors. We’ve made sure we’re able to give peace of mind to users and let people act even more responsibly than ever before.”
A layer of molecules in the condom would theoretically attach to bacteria and viruses associated with common STIs like herpes, syphilis and chlamydia. The reaction from said attachment would then cause the condom to glow a certain color, depending on the infection it detected, forming an “inbuilt indicator.” (Sounds like an invention that Bill Gates would be very interested in.)
So, again, don’t expect to pick these up at your local CVS any time soon. In the meantime, just be as safe as you possibly can — and if you’re going to use those glow-in-the-dark condoms, use them now, before the color they emit means something entirely different.