Technology 3 min read

3D-Printed Third Thumb Enhances Your Human Abilities

The Third Thumb | Danielle Clode |

The Third Thumb | Danielle Clode |

Danielle Clode has designed a prosthetic thumb that’s not intended to replace a lost thumb. Instead, it’s a wearable that augments overall dexterity for anyone–even you!

The arrival and advancement of new tech such as 3D printing are driving prosthetics to go beyond providing solutions for people with unfortunate physical disabilities.

Designers are rethinking the way prosthetics are made and used, in order to improve the physical performance of humans and increase their capabilities.

#3Dprinted #thirdthumb makes you better.Click To Tweet

The Thumb-Driven Progress of the Human Civilization

Let’s take a minute and think about the most important of human digits: the thumb.

Have you ever considered what it’d be like without that independent finger?

The thumb is morphologically different from other fingers, and is the most mobile, endowing the hand with “prehensility”, or the ability to hold and seize objects.

Ask any woodworker who lost a thumb on the table saw, and they’d tell you it’s the most challenging of finger amputations, as it alters their life forever after.

There’s a reason why humans and primates, occupying respectively the first and second places on the intelligence podium, are the only species to have thumbs.

The two most intelligent species on the planet have opposable thumbs.Click To Tweet

The thumb has played a significant throughout the history of humanity. Had the thumb been absent, or placed elsewhere, humans’ dexterity would have been dramatically reduced.

Without the thumb, even the most basic tasks that involve hands would be challenging, like grasping objects and making things. We would never have invented complex tools or machinery. Sciences and arts would have remained at an embryonic stage–intelligence notwithstanding.

We can speculate and say that for an alien civilization to thrive, they need limbs that act as our hands and fingers for “intelligent” tool making and using.

Dani Clode’s Extra Thumb That you Don’t Think you Need

Founded by New Zealander Dani Clode, a grad student at London’s RCA (Royal College of Art), DaniClodeDesign is a UK-based startup specialized in product design and industrial design.

“Prosthesis” comes from Ancient Greek, and it means “addition”, or “extension” and not “replacement”. Taking this definition literally, Clode designed prototype prosthesis, called “The Third Thumb, that doesn’t fix a disability but enhances ability.

third thumb
The Third Thumb | Danielle Clode

Acting as a body augmentation, the Third Thumb is thought of as a wearable that enhances the ability to perform tasks with hands, such as grasping things, playing music, or using the keyboard.

The Third Thumb, which wraps around the wrist, is made of a flexible, 3D-printed material, and is powered by two servomotors to replicate the dynamic motion of the real thumb.

As they would with car brakes or piano pedals, the wearer use their toes to press down two sensors retrofitted in their shoes. This pedal communicates with the thumb via Bluetooth.

The Third Thumb was a winner of the Helen Hamlyn Creativity Awards.

Three Thumbs up to Dani Clode!

Of which finger would you want an extra?

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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