Three teenagers attending England’s Isaac Newton Academy believe they’ve discovered an easy way to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases: condoms that change color when an STD is detected.
The idea is the work of three teenage boys–Daanyaal Ali, 14, Muaz Nawaz, 13, and Chirag Shah, 14–who devised a condom containing antibodies capable of altering the condom’s luminescent hue when coming in contact with typical STDs, including Chlamydia, herpes, and syphilis.
Ali says his team wanted to address a growing health problem. “We knew that [STDs] were a huge problem in the U.K.,” he said. “We saw a gap in the market and we wanted to help people feel safer.”
But don’t expect to see the condoms–which the boys call S.T. EYE – on store shelves any time soon. For now it’s only a concept, with months, perhaps even years, of testing ahead before heading to market–should retailers even like the idea.
Still, the concept was good enough to win the boys first prize at the United Kingdom’s TeenTech Awards, a yearly competition that challenges young people to “understand their true potential and the real opportunities available in the contemporary…workplace.” The boys also won $1,500 and a meeting with Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace.
TeenTech chief executive Maggie Philbin says the boys won the competition because they focused their attention on an important health issue. “I think the reason the judges put this idea first was because the project showed how much learning these boys had done while researching STDs,” she said.