It's like going bareback, but not!
Look out guys because the next generation condoms are on their way! Researchers are using brain scanning technology to test the "pleasure" attributes of a new type of condom that feel like... well... nothing at all! The new thinner and stronger hydrogel material have properties similar to human skin.
The hydrogel is made with water and held together by molecular chains called polymers. "It's really unusual to touch," said Swinburne University cognitive neuroscientist Joseph Ciorciari. "It feels like real human tissue, like when you're touching someone but they're covered in a lubricant."
Developed by materials scientists at Wollongong University, the hydrogel material has been tested for its "pleasure" attributes in Melbourne.
Participants in the pilot study were asked to "touch test" five materials - a combination of different types of lubricated and non-lubricated latex and the hydrogel material, which looks like cling film.
While they were touching the materials - which involved moving three fingers from left to right across each surface up to 80 times - they were wired up to an electroencephalogram machine (EEG) which measured the level and location of electrical activity in their brain.
The reading was then used to identify activity hot spots in the brain which signalled if a strong emotional response was triggered when touching the materials.
"The hydrogel was the only one that had a strong hot spot at the right front of the brain," Associate Professor Ciorciari said. "We also got a perceptual novelty response, as in 'oh that's different, I want to feel more of that'."
Participants from both genders who were sexually active could apply to be part of the research but Associate Professor Ciorciari said it wasn't just university students who showed an interest.
"You'd be amazed that staff were jumping up and down to participate too," he said.
This was important, he said, as it was valuable to include the responses from a range of age groups.
He said the use of brain scanning technology removed any perceived bias from the study because "the brain doesn't lie" - even if some people felt awkward or embarrassed about what they did or didn't like.
Improving sensation of the condom is about more than pleasure - Associate Professor Ciorciari said the research could lead to increased condom use in Africa, where HIV remains a serious health issue. The hydrogel condom can also be made to include antiviral and antibacterial chemicals inside and out.
After a successful pilot study supported by $100,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, researchers are aiming to begin phase two of the trial early next year.
Doing a condom taste test with some of the weirdest condom flavours I could find with Vinny.