The Third Thumb


The Third Thumb investigates the relationship between the body and prosthetic technology in new ways. It is part tool, part experience, and part self-expression; a model by which we better understand human response to artificial extensions. It instigates necessary conversation about the definition of 'ability'.

The origin of the word ‘prosthesis’ meant ’to add, put onto’; so not to fix or replace, but to extend. The Third Thumb is inspired by this word origin, exploring human augmentation and aiming to reframe prosthetics as extensions of the body.

How does is work? The human thumb has a really dynamic movement, the opposing movements working together make the thumb more functional than a single finger. The Third Thumb replicates these movements by using two motors pulling against the natural tension of a flexible 3d printed material. The motors are controlled by two pressure sensors retrofitted into your shoes, under your toes, and communicate to the thumb via Bluetooth connection. The foot control is inspired by products that help to develop the already strong connection between our hands and our feet. For example driving a car, using a sewing machine, or playing a piano.

The Third Thumb aims to challenge the perception of prosthetics. By extending the body I see it creating a similar trajectory for prosthetics as glasses or plastic surgery. Creating a shift from medical device to positive body image statement. Success is widespread social engagement with The Third Thumb, from a jewellery designer, to a falcon handler, to a tattoo artist, to a toddler, the more people who experience it, the better, framing it in different functions and aesthetics. The current Third Thumb design as a starting base for a lot of future adaption of aesthetic. The value of the Third Thumb is to create a catalyst for society to consider human extension, framed in an approachable, accessible design. It is a tool, an experience, and a form of self-expression. 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.

[Via Daniclodedesign]

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