A ‘Third Thumb’ prosthetic for playing cards and holding wine glasses? Sign us up!

You’re holding your phone over your head to scroll through Facebook before you go to bed and the inevitable happens you drop your phone on your face before falling asleep in shame. Not anymore, thanks to the Third Thumb.

The new 3D printed thumb is the creative projects of Londons Royal College of Art graduate student Danielle Clode. The creation began as a research project into how upper-limb prosthetics attach to and are controlled by the body.

According to Clode’s graduate exhibition description, she found that the origin of the word prosthesis meant “an addition to.” But that over time, the meaning seems to have morphed into being a way to fix a broken body.

Clode wanted to change this perception.

“A prosthetic extends the body, but is more than just a product; it sits in an area between the body and a product.”

“I feel that prosthetics are extensions to the body,” Clode said. “Our societal norms of what a normal body has generated an idea of perfect body aesthetic, but this is evolving.”

The flexible prosthetic has two joints and is controlled by pressure sensors in the user’s shoes. Bluetooth signals send instructions from your feet to the associate wristband. The wristband is where the motor is located, and what the third thumb is attached to on your hand.

Once the sensors are set up, using the thumb is pretty simple. Press down with one foot and the thumb will make a grasping movement. Lift up to let go of the pressure, and your extra thumb will return to the normal, relaxed position on your hand.

Clode’s Third Thumb is only a prototype right now, but maybe we’ll start seeing more prosthetics like this in the future. It’s an extension of the body by way of a product not to replace a missing or broken body part, but to add an extra part to use as a tool.

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