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Last week the Tech Hive Durex Startup challenge took place in Beijing, China, a competition that proved to be a little more hot and heavy than most. Each team attempted to seduce the public with revolutionary technologies all revolving around the theme of “sexual well-being,” in partnership with Durex, a major player in the realm of condoms and sexual health.

While I’m on the subject of safe sex, the winner of this competition was a startup called CirQ, led by Web Presence in China CTO Alex Ververis. Proving that smart technologies have their place even in the bedroom, their prize-winning design was a Wi-Fi enabled, contracting and expanding condom .

CirQ’s smart-material based, printable electronic tag can be attached to the base of pretty much any standard condom. It helps the wearer combat erectile dysfunction (ED) by sensing blood flow, and either constricts (pleasurably, they claim, for all of you out there, myself included, who cringed at this information) or expands the condom's diameter according to the wearer’s penile blood flow. The result is what CirQ describes as a “gentle yet pleasant pumping action” to enhance the wearer’s sexual experience, as well as stimulating healthy circulation.

And because it’s apparently not interesting enough just to add some prophylactic circuitry into your love life, CirQ’s condom also has the ability to sync wirelessly to an existing wearable. A companion app can then give you tips on how to prevent erectile dysfunction, and provide a long term solution to combating unfortunate bouts of performance anxiety-related ED. (Or, as will inevitably happen, foster some high-tech locker room talk, with empirical data to prove it.)

My first concern is a fairly obvious one that anyone (men in particular) reading this must be asking – what happens if the circuitry shorts out and things suddenly become a lot less pleasurable? We are dealing with electronics here - and what with all of the movement and potential for fluids to make their way into the device (a shockingly unwelcome surprise in the heat of the moment) CirQ’s circuit is going to have to be pretty flexible to accommodate for the wild physics of sex, and safety measures must be taken in the design to ensure that no dampness shorts anything out. (Though, if the wearer has employed correct condom application technique, nothing should be getting in or out.)

Though certainly a welcome relief to anxious men, this approach to sexual health addresses erectile dysfunction insofar as it is a symptom. Most of the time, ED is psychologically based – an issue which, over time, CirQ’s condom's good vibrations should alleviate. But chronic ED can also be a symptom of much larger health concerns, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, even Parkinson’s, and the list goes on. So sure, the good vibrations of this condom may be able to solve the outward problem of ED. But if the wearer can’t achieve an erection without CirQ's help, (ironically enough, similar to best practices following any Viagra-induced erection lasting over four hours), a visit to your local healthcare professional is highly recommended.

What do you think about CirQ’s high-tech approach to sexual health? Comment below!

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