An artist made a “third thumb” for your hand that makes everything easier


Are you clumsy? Maybe you just need an extra thumb. Dani Clode, a U.K.-based designer, was so inspired by opposable digits that she decided to create her own.

The result is a 3-D printed, remote-controlled “third thumb” meant to be worn on the outside edge of the hand. We first learned about the project from Tech Xplore, which detailed first-time users’ delight. On Monday, the project won the Helen Hamlyn Design Award for Creativity from the U.K.’s Royal College of Art.

Inside the thumb are two hinges run by motors in a bracelet-like attachment connected by wires. The user controls the thumb through Bluetooth-enabled pressure sensors inserted into a standard pair of shoes. On her website, Clode compares the controls to the pedals of a car, sewing machine or piano. Because the whole assembly is 3-D printed, it can be adjusted to fit a specific individual’s hand.

A video about the project highlights the thumb’s versatility, featuring users controlling an iPad’s screen, squeezing a pair of pliers, playing cards, carrying wine glasses, juicing a lemon and strumming a guitar.

Clode wrote on her website that she wanted to approach prosthetic devices from the perspective of expanding ability, rather than “fixing” a disability or “replacing” something missing. However, she doesn’t address how the third thumb would interact with an individual body’s constraints.