Three Thumbs, Way, Way Up!

At least one in their lives — or several times a day — everyone has wished they had a third hand to help them with a given task. Adding a mechanical extra arm to one’s outfit is a big step, so it might make sense to smart small, and first add an extra thumb to your hand.

This is not a prosthetic in the traditional sense, but a wearable human augmentation envisioned by [Dani Clode], a master’s student at London’s Royal College of Art. The thumb is 3D-printed out of Ninjaflex and mounted to a printed brace which slides over the hand. One servo rotates the thumb, and a second pulls it closed using a bowden cable system — not unlike that of a bicycle brake. Control of the thumb is achieved by pressure sensors in the wearer’s shoes, linked via Bluetooth to a wristband hosting the servos and the electronics. We already use our hands and feet in conjunction, so why not capitalize on this intuitive link?

The main thrust of this project is to expand human ability and expression: in the same way that a pair of glasses can express individual character while their capacity as a medical device takes a secondary role, [Clode] hopes that her third thumb will have an aesthetic component alongside broadening our capacity as humans. This isn’t to say that traditional prosthetics cannot be works of art in and of themselves.

[Thanks for the tip, Sophi!]


Filed under: hardware, wearable hacks

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