Design Led Innovation

We’re going beyond the usual design boundaries of aesthetics, function and form.

Design-led innovation is a collaborative process that draws on design strategy, human-centred research and social innovation principles.

Our process aligns materials innovation with design methods and deep listening to people’s wants and needs. This helps us move beyond purely engineering-driven product development to create insightful and useful products can be manufactured effectively and create transformative change.

In reimagining the condom, we’re developing new hydrogel-based products that answer the specific challenges of specific targeted communities. In other words, we’re using science, empathy and design to create something people want to use.

Simon Cook.pdj.

Engaging Communities

We’re learning what influences people’s choices about sexual health and relationships

Sex is different for everyone. By getting people involved in our project, they’re sharing and developing ideas to improve condom usage.

There are many reasons – from personal attitudes to cultural and religious beliefs – that influence the use of condoms. Our research will help us identify and understand why people do or don’t use condoms, whether in selected areas of Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia or elsewhere in the world. We’ll also engage locally with recent migrants in Australia to gain insight into what influences their condom choices.

It’s critical to listen to people and hear their perspectives on this sensitive topic. Without their input, we won’t know what to design, how it will be used or should be communicated, or why it matters.

Kate Senior.pdj.

Medical Devices 

safety, performance and peace of mind.

From the stick-on bandage that you put on a scratched knee at a skate park to the braces the orthodontist puts on in a surgery, medical devices can be any kind of product that has a therapeutic effect on humans.

Of course artificial hips and high risk products such as pacemakers implanted in your body are medical devices but so are blood pressure monitors, lubricating eyedrops, catheters and syringes - and condoms. 

Medical device manufacturing adheres to rigorous and detailed process controls that vary with the classification of the device. Condoms present particular kinds of risk and are subject to extremely tight controls.

We test for mechanical performance, physical and friction properties. Conventional hydrogels are mechanically weak, so we have pioneered new techniques and formulations to improve strength and toughness. Our biological validation team rigorously tests the permeability of the material to ensure it's an effective barrier for sperm cells, bacteria, and virus particles.

Every stage of our research, design, manufacturing, testing and delivery adheres to these exacting levels of quality, safety and reliability.


Materials Science

Our work began with a team of experts working on the mechanical aspects of the material at the University of Wollongong (UOW).

Hydrogels are a class of materials often described as soft, squishy and wet. They consist mainly of water held together by molecular chains called polymers.

And that’s why hydrogels are really interesting for our work: they are soft, stretchy, have properties close to human tissue, and can be designed to feel like skin. Perfect for the next generation condom.

For example, the newest tough hydrogels can stretch over 1000 times their initial size. They can also be engineered to be effective biological barriers. We’re working on formulations to create a condom that is strong and flexible, provides superior protection, and offers the potential for improved feel and sensation.



Gates Foundation-083.jpg