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BREAKING: The University of Cambridge Introduced “The Third Thumb”

Jun 8, 2024 | News | 0 comments

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☑️Are you ready to grip things with an extra thumb?
☑️The robotic thumb is designed to help us enhance productivity at work.

The Third Thumb: The future is artificial intelligence, robots, and digitalised tools; the future is here. As technology and innovations are leading the world today, we must be quick-witted in adapting new inventions. Scientists have successfully created a new, programmable prosthetic thumb, “The Third Thumb” to increase efficiency.

This newly built robotic thumb enables the human hand to accomplish more tasks, such as performing surgery, holding numerous drink glasses, and doing card shuffling. It is developed and tested for neuroscientific research in collaboration with The Plastic Lab at University College London and Cambridge University.

Tamar Makin, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, said, “We are also really excited about potential opportunities of using the thumb to enhance productivity in work settings, especially those that rely on their hand’s manual dexterity to accomplish their work.”

What is “The Third Thumb?”

The Third Thumb is a robotically designed 3D-based thumb extension that is built to fix on our palms and can be easily controlled by our hands. As per Dani Clode’s report, “The Third Thumb” project explores the relationship between our bodies and augmentative and prosthetic technology. The Third Thumb instigates a 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 project is inspired by this word origin, exploring human augmentation and aiming to reframe prosthetics as extensions of the body.” The study team declares that very light-weight youngsters should avoid using pressure sensors designed especially for the show.

Moving ahead, it was displayed at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in 2022, and almost 600 public members tried the third thumb. Only about four people could not operate the robotic thumb because it did not fit their hand snugly enough or they could not manipulate it with their feet.

“This can be anywhere between manual labourers trying to solder a complicated kit or even surgeons that have to negotiate between many instruments at the same time,” Makin added.

How does it work?

According to the study team, a pressure sensor positioned beneath each big toe or foot controls the third thumb. The pressure on the right toe pulls the third thumb across the hand, and the pressure on the left toe pulls the thumb up toward the fingers. The pressure exerted determines how far the third thumb can move.

As per the developing team, this technology is specifically designed for able-bodied people, people with two hands or five fingers, to allow them to do more with their hands. Researchers have great hopes for the third thumb’s potential applications, including highly competent professional settings. Dani Clode, the developer of the third thumb, says the device is easy to use.

“We’re trying to break beyond the flesh and blood limitations of our own body and allow you to interact with the world in a completely new way,” the core team added.

What does the report say?

According to the results published in Science Robotics in May, 98 per cent of participants were able to successfully manipulate objects using the extra thumb during the first test, with no significant influences of gender, handedness, or affinity for hobbies involving the hands.

“Any tool that we learn to use in our daily lives requires a little training and experience within the context of our day. The thumb is no different, but what’s exciting about it is that it seems really complex from the beginning, and it’s really no,” said Clode.

Using it is reportedly so simple that anyone can exploit it to hold or lift anything smoothly. This robotic device could also support those who need it.

“Even though the thumb is designed for able-bodied people, we can easily envisage situations where people with disabilities could enjoy or benefit from the extra help of the thumb, so we’re trying to build the thumb as an alternative to traditional assistive technology,” said Makin.

Researchers hope that the third thumb could redefine human capabilities with further testing. What’s your opinion on The Third Thumb device and its usage?

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Written by Riteshu Sen Jaiswar

Chief Of Media at BIZBoost || Public Speaker || Web 3 Junkie || Passionate Writer || Gyaan Seeker

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