We've all had a moment where an extra pair of hands would have been incredibly useful, but who has ever wondered what they could do with just an extra thumb? London-based designer Danielle Clode not only wondered, but went on to build one. Her 3D-printed, foot-controlled, Third Thumb offers an insight into how prosthetics can do more than just replace disabled limbs, but actually extend our natural abilities.
Danielle Clode created the Third Thumb as her Masters graduate project at the Royal College of Art in London. This human hand extension is centered around a hinge-based thumb, 3D-printed out of a flexible filament called Ninjaflex.
The thumb is strapped to a hand and powered by a motor that sits like a small watch on the wearer's wrist. The thumb is then controlled by two pressure sensors that sit under a person's feet and connect up wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Clode's intent with the design was to alter people's perception of prosthetics. She wants the design to allow people to see prosthetics as more than simple limb or body replacements, but rather as devices that can extend our potential abilities.
"When we start to extend our abilities, and when we reframe prosthetics as extensions, then we start to shift the focus from 'fixing' disability, to extending ability," Clode writes on her website.
A video accompanying the project illustrates a variety of everyday tasks that the Third Thumb could potentially benefit. From scrolling through pages on a tablet to playing guitar where the extra thumb could open up entire new chords, the extra thumb certainly offers wonderfully strange and new ways to interact with ordinary objects.
The design is obviously just a concept, although the working prototype is notably well-realized. Clode has developed a couple of different aesthetic pathways for the device, from the obviously functional piece to a more jewelry-orientated design.
As we move towards a transhuman future, ideas like this offer a fascinating glimpse at how augmented bodies could allow us to achieve physical feats that were previously impossible.
Take a look at the Third Thumb in action in the video below.
Source: Dani Clode Design