UCL researchers conducted a study where their trained people to use a robotic third thumb, and they discovered that it forced their brains to adapt quickly. This meant the participants were able to effectively perform dextrous tasks, such as building a tower of blocks using their one hand, but with two thumbs). At the end, the 20 participants trained to use the thumb felt like it was actually a part of their body. Read more for a video and additional information.
The third thumb was developed by designer Dani Clode as part of an award-winning graduate project at the Royal College of Art, with the aim of changing how people view prosthetics. Instead of just replacing a lost function, this project aimed to make them an extension of the human body. Best of all, this thumb is completely 3D-printed, making it very easy to customize.
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Our study shows that people can quickly learn to control an augmentation device and use it for their benefit, without overthinking. We saw that while using the Third Thumb, people changed their natural hand movements, and they also reported that the robotic thumb felt like part of their own body,” said Dani Clode, Designer at UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Dani Clode Design.