Charlie Sheen-backed condom looks like a penis beehive

Sex-toy designer Lelo is aiming to reinvent the condom, not by changing the material but by giving it a new, honeycomb-style structure.

Charlie Sheen-backed condom looks like a penis beehive

The Lelo Hex uses a hexagon-heavy interior lattice, which spans the length of the latex material. The creators say the Lelo Hex is “inspired by” graphene, although this inspiration seems to extend only to the condom’s honeycomb design.

Hexagons, Lelo explains, “are strong, symmetrical, and tessellate perfectly. They’re nature’s go-to shape for anything needing to be at once lightweight, and incredibly strong.” In terms of thickness, the hexagonal web is 0.055mm thick, while the panels in between are 0.045mm thick. As well as increasing strength, Lelo says the slight ridge on the web makes the condoms less slippery.

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Charlie Sheen, who revealed he is HIV positive last year, is backing Lelo’s Indiegogo campaign. “There’s an odd combination now. People still want to be like me, experience my life, but there’s a little detail they want no part of. So they can avoid that by using this,” he says, in a video promoting the condom.

At the time of writing, Lelo Hex had secured $142,788 of its $12,000 goal, with a month remaining on its campaign. But as far as paradigm-shifting condoms go, the Lelo Hex is somewhat underwhelming.  

In 2013, the Gates Foundation launched a scheme to find the next generation of sexual protection, including a self-lubricating hydrogel material, and a condom actually made of a graphene-based polymer. As Motherboard’s Lux Alptraum asks in a recent article for the site, why is it that these innovative condoms have languished, while Lelo’s effort is teetering on market release?

Many of the answers relate to getting what is often legally classified as a medical device through the regulation process. Getting new materials approved is a longer, and more expensive, procedure. New designs to the pre-existing latex material, however, take less time and money.

Ultimately, the argument for new condoms hinges on convincing men to use them in the first place. If making a regular condom look like a beehive encourages people to do that – great – but it may not be quite the revolutionary step forward many are hoping for.

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