If you could have an extra body part, what would it be?
An augmentation designer has chosen a third thumb.
Sounds mad – and it looks it too – but it turns out an extra thumb would be pretty useful.
Designer Dani Clode developed a device called the ‘Third Thumb’ as part of a project at the Royal College of Art.
Clode wears the 3D-printed device on the side of the hand opposite her actual thumb near the pinky finger.
She then controls it with pressure sensors attached to her feet on the underside of the big toes.
Connected wirelessly, both toe sensors control different movements of the Third Thumb by immediately responding to subtle changes of pressure from the wearer.
To test the Third Thumb’s capability, a team from University College London were trained to use the device.
This involved focusing on tasks that helped increase the cooperation between their hand and the Third Thumb, such as picking up multiple balls or wine glasses with one hand.
They learned the basics of using the device very quickly, while the training enabled them to successfully improve their motor control, dexterity and hand-thumb coordination.
Participants were even able to use the device when distracted – building a wooden block tower while solving math problems – or while blindfolded.
So, it felt natural super quickly.
The project challenges the conventional idea of prosthetics by considering them as extensions rather than mere replacements.
A video posted to TikTok of the Third Thumb in action shows not everyone’s convinced, though.
“If we were meant to have six fingers, we would’ve been born with six fingers,” one user said.
“We’ve been fine without one for centuries. Why now?” another asked.
“People today don’t even know how to use their brain. What will they do with an extra finger?” another posted.
Some social media users suggested other body parts that would be more useful, like another pair or arms of even a tail.
Perhaps they’re projects for Clode to consider next.