Inspired by the Gates Foundation's call to designers and engineers to reinvent a rubber that feels as good, if not better than au naturel, Firaz Peer and Andrew Quitmeyer have developed an open-source, digital condom they call the Electric Eel.
Yes, an electronic jimmy hat.
The idea isn't crazy. The Eel has electrodes running down the length of the condom, which produce mild electrical pulses (at a safe voltage, of course) along the underside of the penis shaft as a way to compensate for the decreased sensation that condoms can cause.
It's not much to look at in its current state — the one pictured above is merely a prototype. Peer and Quitmeyer made two, in fact: one with wires and electrodes sewn into an actual condom and the other with them sewn into a sock-like sheath. The wires are connected to a LilyPad Arduino microcontroller, which is essentially the brain of the Eel. (You can take a break if you're just too turned on to keep reading right now.)
Future models would replace the wires with thin electric leads. Further, Peer and Quitmeyer explain in their demo video that the controllers could be "directed in person or through various Internet APIs." (It's a little difficult for us to imagine someone whipping out their iPhone in the middle of banging in order to modulate the voltage on their Internet-connected condom, but maybe I'm just a simple man.) That aside, an e-stim gent tent makes sense.
There are a couple of issues, however, with whether this really addresses the problem of condom use. First, there are a ton of reasons why people don't wear condoms, and how condoms feel is only one of them. Some people believe that condom-less sex increases the level of intimacy they feel with their partner or that a trusting monogamous relationship doesn't require a raincoat. There are latex allergies and religious arguments. And, of course, some intentionally don't use condoms because they're trying to get pregnant. (There's also the practice of bug-chasing, which is not as widespread as the media's suggested, but is in fact a thing. But, that's another article.)
Let's get back to the part about sensation, though: Condoms don't only affect the male, penetrating partner. As one female reddit user put it, "The feeling of flesh is better than the feeling of rubber," while others complained of dryness and chafing.
That's not to say that people shouldn't wear condoms. What the Electric Eel needs to address is sensation for both partners — and, if those electrodes work as well as advertised, might be just as awesome on the outside of the condom, too.
The good thing about the Electric Eel's Indiegogo campaign — which, at the time of publication is still $9,570 short of its $10,000 goal — is that Peer and Quitmeyer admit that they are still in the early stages of development. In addition, they've used the Eel as an excuse to launch a platform called Comingle, with which they can document and share designs for hacked sex toys and more open-source sex tech. So, even if the Eel never takes off, you can be assured that they'll still be plugging away at new ways to electrify your bits. (Motherboard)