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We could soon all be wearing a third thumb to help us multitask

We could soon all be wearing a third thumb to help us multitask

The University of Cambridge has recently unveiled a life-changing product.

UK scientists have unveiled a game-changing prosthetic thumb that is going to transform people’s lives for the better.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created a debatable item, dubbed ‘The Third Thumb’, which will allow wearers to carry out complex tasks using just one hand.

For example, users will be able to open jars, peel bananas and multitask with one hand, rather than two.

The Third Thumb prosthetic is worn on the opposite side of the wearer’s actual thumb.

So on your left hand, the item would be situated on the right and vice versa.

The innovation, first revealed by researcher Dani Clode back in 2017, is controlled by a pressure sensor under each of the wearer’s big toes.

These sensors are wirelessly connected to The Third Thumb and are controlled by subtle changes in pressure.

Speaking to BBC Science Focus, designer Clode said: “Using pressure sensors under the toes, and a wearable around the ankles, all of this connects to a sensor on the arm to control the thumb,”

“Pressure from the right toe pulls the thumb across the hand, the same with the left toe which pulls the thumb up towards the fingers.

“This pressure allows the thumb to pick up, hold and act as an extension of the hand.”

Cambridge University
Cambridge University

As per MailOnline, the creators of the unit enlisted a variety of volunteers to try out The Third Thumb.

It’s reported that participants adapted easily to having an extra digit when they were tasked with carrying out small tasks such as moving objects from A to B.

The University’s study found that 333 of the 596 volunteers got to grips with the prosthetic and were able to pick up pegs from a pegboard at one time.

98 percent of participants were also found to be able to use the device within the first minute.

Dani Clode Design & The Plasticity Lab/Cambridge University
Dani Clode Design & The Plasticity Lab/Cambridge University

Speaking about the design, study author Lucy Dowdall said: “Our everyday lives are already consumed by wearable technologies and we are now seeing an increasing number of specifically augmented technologies be developed.

“The Third Thumb can be used to extend the function of the hand – so any task the reacquires carrying multiple objects at a time, or stabilising one item whilst performing a task with another.”

Experts also believe that the invention could be used to aid amputees who have difficulty carrying out everyday tasks, as per the publication.

Dani Clode Design & The Plasticity Lab
Dani Clode Design & The Plasticity Lab

So, while the Third Thumb sounds like a roaring success, the question is - do we need it?

Well, this machinery will allow musicians to thrive and could aid manual laborers who are trying to get their jobs done stat.

The aforementioned publication also claims that surgeons and bartenders could also benefit from using an extra appendage.

However, The Third Thumb designer Clode claims that it is going to be a ‘challenge’ to bring the product to the masses.

“In the short term, we’re pivoting into patient scenarios,” she explained. “We’re currently looking at research with patients who have broken limbs.”

She added that researchers are currently looking at the design as an assist for people who have broken their hand before leading into groups who have experienced strokes before moving on to children.

Featured Image Credit: Dani Clode Design & The Plasticity Lab / Cambridge University / Youtube