Crowdsource Spotlight — The "Electric Eel" Condom / by Michael Epstein

  • It's a... - Developer kit for sex toys?
  • Raising Cash on... - Indiegogo
  • Until... - March 31st
  • How much do want? - $10,000 USD*
  • How Much for Me to Get One? - A Prototype "Electric Eel" costs $350
  • And When Will I Get It? - July, 2014

How do you get more men to wear condoms? Shock their penises, of course!

CoMingle, an "open-source sex developer," wants to build a better condom. Rather than focussing on making prophylactics more effective, the Atlanta-based developer's lofty goal is to improve the experience of sex with a condom without compromising their effectiveness. In lieu of making a thinner condom, which could break, or developing an expensive alternative to latex, the "Electric Eel" digital condom creates an alternative source of stimulation in the form of an occasional mild electric shock.

After developing a proof-of-concept, attaching electric wiring to standard issue condoms, CoMingle created their prototype, a cloth sleeve with a set of small electrodes sewed in along the underside of the shaft. The prototype features a breath-based sensor: Just gently blow and... ZAP.

If that sounds more like an autoerotic experience than something meant for couples, you aren't alone. While the sensor adds the potential for a two-person experience, it also turns the Eel into less of a "condom" and more of a sex toy. That's not problem, but it doesn't exactly fit with the developer's safe-sex pitch.

In general, the pitch isn't terribly compelling compared to other hardware start-ups looking for public funding. The Electric Eel clearly isn't a finished product, which makes it pretty hard to sell. Crowdsourcing may have been conceived to help developers achieve their dreams, but consumers don't back projects out of the goodness of their hearts.

Then again, their fundraising goal is exactly that, fundraising. In fact, CoMingle specifically suggests the drive is to get their work in the hands of designers who want to develop their own condoms or sex toys. The campaign suggests that, in time, they will return with something that will stimulate a little more buzz.

It sounds like no matter how much money it raises, this won't be the last time we hear from The Electric Eel.

*This campaign features "flexible funding," and will take donations even if it does not reach it's funding goal.