By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — Two researchers have developed a prototype condom that delivers small, stimulating electronic impulses to the penis during sex.

The so-called digital condom, named the Electric Eel, was developed by Firaz Peer and Andrew Quitmeyer. The researchers have started a crowd-funding campaign to continue its development.

Men often refuse to wear condoms, claiming they reduce pleasure during sex. If more men used a more pleasurable condom, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases would be greatly reduced, heath experts argue.

Lack of condom use is a major health issue, and not just in poor developing countries.

The Chicago Department of Public Health makes condoms available for free, especially in communities with the highest rates of STI/HIV/AIDS and other health disparities. There are hundreds of locations across the city that participate.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently issued a challenge to develop a better condom. That’s the genesis of the Electric Eel.

The Microsoft mogul’s charity is offering $100,000 to anyone who can create a “new generation” condom that makes sex more enjoyable.

Gates’ call for a new condom is part of its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, aimed at funding projects that improve the lives of the world’s poor.

If it enters production, the Electric Eel would embed conductive leads into the condom’s material to deliver the electric impulse. The developers say the condom delivers more pleasure to both partners during sex.

The condom could be attached to some sort of controller used by a partner to regulate the impulses, the developers say.

Another way would be to attach the condom to a “breath sensor” on the man’s body. Presumably the heavier the breathing, the greater the stimulation.

The impulses have been described by testers of both sexes as “pleasurable, comfortable or exciting,” Peer and Quitmeyer say.