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February 23, 2012 at 7:33 PM

Condom codes let users “check in” with smartphones

If you knew that everyone in your neighborhood was having sex — and wearing a condom — would that encourage you to start thinking about safe sex?

That’s the theory, or part of it, behind Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest’s distribution of 55,000 bar-coded condoms to community colleges and universities and its own health centers throughout Western Washington.

These aren’t just regular condoms. The QR codes on the wrappers can be scanned by smartphones, connecting users to a mobile website that plot their approximate location and ask a few non-identifying questions such as age range and questions like: “The Safe Sex Was ” — with choices ranging from “ah-mazing” to “things can only improve from here.”

Then, your encounter will become a little blue dot on a searchable map, where you can zoom in on your neighborhood or area of interest.

The condom distribution by Planned Parenthood affiliates around the country is part of National Condom Week, a safe-sex campaign begun at the University of California-Berkeley in the 1970s.

The idea for the “Where did you Wear it?” campaign — the first of its kind — says Nathan Engebretson, PPGNW’s new media coordinator, is to target college students and millenials, already comfy with social media, to promote healthy sexuality by announcing that they’re “proud to wear protection.”

Check-ins, says Kristen Glundberg-Prossor, PPGNW’s public-affairs director, have already come from all 50 states and six continents; local campuses receiving the QR coded condoms include all three University of Washington Campuses, University of Puget Sound, The Evergreen State College, Pacific Lutheran University, and many community colleges.

 

Carol M. Ostrom: 206-464-2249 or costrom@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @costrom.

Comments | Topics: planned parenthood, safe sex

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