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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 01 December 2017 > Glove Is a Many- Splendored Thing

Glove Is a Many- Splendored Thing

Custom-fit condoms are coming t o a 3 - D printer near you, thanks to the unscaled economy

INNOVATION

A WOMAN BRINGS HER DATE back to her place. Things get steamy. Clothes come off…but, you know, gotta be safe. She takes out her phone, scans her guy’s nether regions, then hits Print. The 3-D printer in her backroom whips up a custom-size hydrogel condom that fits the guy like vacuum wrap on a package of hot dogs. Good times ensue, and nobody had to run out to the drugstore.

That’s not a scrapped scene from Blade Runner 2049—it could happen before your Bumble membership expires. Several technologies are swirling together to bring serious innovation to condoms for the first time since the Youngs Rubber Co. started making latex Trojans in the 1920s. All this innovation is pushing hard against regulatory agencies that can’t keep up with the science, but it is coming. The emerging rubbers revolution fits into the grand scheme of how technology is radically changing the global economy. Cloud computing, mobile phones, artificial intelligence and 3-D printing are driving a trend that venture capitalist Hemant Taneja and I call “unscaling” in our book, Unscaled, due out next March.

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