A British condom-maker eyeing a billion-dollar growing market has made what can arguably be called a “smart condom.” The i.Con wearable ring promises to tell a man how “it” went and, more importantly, warn when “doing the deed” becomes unsafe.
British Condoms says its i.Con ring is powered by nanotechnology to count calories burned during sexual intercourse, asses thrust, duration, and skin temperature. CNET reports the data can be shared and used to compare performance online. The manufacturer also claims i.Con can measure girth, an attribute prominent in discussions, both scientific and otherwise, about sexual performance. The reusable ring can transfer data to a proprietary smartphone app through Bluetooth. It can be charged through USB and lasts eight hours on a single charge, the device-maker stated.
According to British Condoms, “The smart condom ring will sit at the base of a condom and has an adjustable band to ensure the correct fit for all sizes and will also help to ensure that the condom remains secure during intercourse reducing the risk of ‘condom slip’.”
Some estimates peg the global contraceptive market growth at more than 5 percent compounding annually over the next five years. In the U.K. alone, the contraceptive devices market was estimated at over $617 million in 2015, with condoms accounting for more than half of it. Those growth prospects have not been lost on British Condoms. The device manufacturer mentioned i.Con will retail around the world, though initially it will be made available through its website.
The manufacturer also claims the ring is not just a “wearable” that can sense motion. A spokesperson for the company said alarms in the smartphone app will go off if the condom ring detects STI during intercourse. Without elaborating, the company claimed an “antibodies filter” will help detect disease-causing antigens and proteins.
“Not only have we innovated the world’s first Smart Condom Ring that’ll measure pretty much every aspect of performance in the bedroom, but now I’m pleased to confirm that it will also have built-in indicators to alert the users to any potential STI’s present,” Medical News Today wrote, quoting Adam Leverson, engineering lead of the i.Con project.
The device manufacturer also revealed it was testing a feature to capture information about sexual positions.
A Fitbit For Your Dangly Bits – Smart Condom Tracks Male Sex Performance https://t.co/ZMOwcruuVu
— New Rising Media (@newrising_media) March 3, 2017
Condom use is associated with a reduced risk of contracting STIs including syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV among others. According to the WHO, more than a million STIs are acquired every day across the world. Additionally, an estimated 290 million women have an HPV infection at any given time, according to the health agency. In North America alone, 125 million are affected by curable sexually transmitted infections.
However, stating a lack of information regarding scientific testing of the condom, Forbes questioned the effectiveness of the ring in detecting STIs, suggesting it should not become a replacement for lab-based testing. Questions were also raised about data sharing and privacy. The manufacturer has assured anonymous access to stats and its use for a comparison.
“All data will be kept anonymous, but users will have the option to share their recent data with friends, or, indeed the world,” CNET wrote, quoting British Condoms.
Social media reactions to news of a “smart condom” ranged from the curious to the hilarious. Some wondered if wearable technology had gone too far with the smart condom and joked about the consequences of the device being hacked.
— Cole (@ColeColerabon) March 3, 2017
Wearable technology, which includes gadgets like Fitbit and now a smart condom, is projected to grow to $51.60 billion by 2022. The last quarter of 2016 saw 33.9 million units being shipped, a record high achieved following 17 percent growth, market intelligence provider IDC claims.
[Featured Image by KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Thinkstock]