Three Thumbs, Way, Way Up!

At least one in their lives — or several times a day — everyone has wished they had a third hand to help them with a given task. Adding a mechanical extra arm to one’s outfit is a big step, so it might make sense to smart small, and first add an extra thumb to your hand.

This is not a prosthetic in the traditional sense, but a wearable human augmentation envisioned by [Dani Clode], a master’s student at London’s Royal College of Art. The thumb is 3D-printed out of Ninjaflex and mounted to a printed brace which slides over the hand. One servo rotates the thumb, and a second pulls it closed using a bowden cable system — not unlike that of a bicycle brake. Control of the thumb is achieved by pressure sensors in the wearer’s shoes, linked via Bluetooth to a wristband hosting the servos and the electronics. We already use our hands and feet in conjunction, so why not capitalize on this intuitive link?

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Open source finger prosthesis

Here’s a project that is striving to develop a set of open source finger prosthesis. They are aimed at patients who have partial amputations. This means that part of the digit remains and can be used as the motive force behind a well designed mechanical prosthesis like you see above. This uses levers, pulleys, and wire to move a gripper in much the same way the pad of a pointer finger works. There’s even a video (embedded after the jump) which shows it being used to grab a toothpick from a dispenser… pretty impressive.┬áThis is similar to the prosthesis we saw in August which managed to work without pulleys and wire.

This isn’t limited to fingers. The same posts that shows off the unit seen above also includes a prosthetic thumb. The leverage for that design is provided by a woven nylon strap which attaches to a bracelet on the wrist.

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