Dani Clode, a product design student at London's Royal Academy of Art, developed a prosthetic thumb that functions as an extension to one’s already fully-functioning hand. Literally named the Third Thumb, the device has stirred up quite the hype, as it opens the doors to developing prosthetics that function to enhance body functions, rather than just as damage control devices.
“The origin of the word 'prosthesis' meant 'to add, put on to,’ so not to fix or replace, but to extend,” Clode told Dezeen. “The Third Thumb is inspired by this word origin, exploring human augmentation and aiming to reframe prosthetics as extensions of the body.”
The thumb is a wearable, motorized finger that can be used by anyone wanting an extra digit. The device is connected to a bracelet worn by the person and is controlled by the movement of the wearer’s feet. Feet movement is monitored by pressure sensors inside or attached to the wearer’s shoes.
Our natural thumbs move in a host of different ways and are essential to almost everything we do using our hands. To emulate this dynamic range of movement, Clode made this device out of a 3D-printed flexible plastic filament called Ninjaflex. Two motors pull the digit in various directions to make it bend at its three hinges.
As demonstrated through her video, the thumb is quite easy to get used to and could be particularly useful for musicians. It’ll also be interesting to see how gamers might take to having an extra finger for controls.
Clode says there are no plans to copyright or market the Third Thumb and she sees it more as a thought piece and catalyst for discussion.