High school students in the UK have come up with the idea of a condom that changes colour when it comes into contact with the pathogens that cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamdyida or herpes.
Their hypothetical condom, which they’re calling the 'S.T.EYE', would have molecules built into the rubber that attach to specific bacteria and viruses. These molecules would then cause the condom to fluoresce different colours in low light, depending on the pathogens present. For example, the condom could glow green for chlamydia, yellow for herpes, purple for human papillomavrius or blue for syphilis.
"We wanted to make something that makes detecting harmful STIs safer than ever before, so that people can take immediate action in the privacy of their own homes without the invasive procedures at the doctors," 14-year-old Daanyaal Ali, one of the inventors, told the press.
While the S.T.EYE is very much just an idea - in fact, a condom like this isn't scientifically possible, as Hopes and Fears reports - we think the fact that such young students could come up with the premise is very promising for the future of science.
The team, which also invovled students Muaz Nawaz, 13 and Chirag Shah, 14, won the TeenTech award for best health innovation for their idea, which they hope will help make sex safer in the future.
"We created the S.T.EYE as a new way for STI detection to help the future of the next generation," said Ali. "We've made sure we're able to give peace of mind to users and make sure people can be even more responsible than ever before."
The team will be presented their award at Buckingham Palace later in the year, and will also be awarded £1,000 (AUD$2,000) for their invention.
The aim of the awards is to "encourage students to take their ideas out of the classroom by putting them face-to-face with industry professionals, helping to open their eyes to the real potential of their ideas," according to founder Maggie Philbin.
Other entries included an electronic tap that helps to save water in developing countries, and shoes that allow its wearer to charge items while walking.
We hope the industry is paying attention and decides to turn some of these ideas into a reality. Although we can only imagine how much worse the post-coital conversation would be if your condom had just started glowing blue. Awkward.
**Editor's note 1 July 2015: While we made it clear in the original article that this idea was hypothetical and had not yet been physically made, we've now added a link to this article from Hopes and Fears, which states that such a condom would not be scientifically possible. But even though the S.T.EYE may never be a reality, we still think that the ingenuity shown by the students is worth sharing.**