Since then, prosthesis has been primarily about replacing body parts lost due to trauma or disease.
But it doesn’t have to be. Artist Dani Clode says prosthesis could be about exploring completely new types of body functionality.
To that end, Clode recently debuted a prosthetic “Third Thumb” that gives the wearer new ways to grip a baseball, squeeze toothpaste, shake hands, or strum difficult-to-reach chords on the guitar.
“The Third Thumb aims to challenge the perception of prosthetics,” Clode said in an email. “By extending the body, I see it creating a similar trajectory for prosthetics as glasses or plastic surgery. When we reframe prosthetics as extensions, then we start to shift the focus from ‘fixing’ disability, to extending ability.”
The Third Thumb straps on to your hand and connects to a set of two small engines motors strapped on at the wrist. These motors allow the thumb to both grip and pivot.
The user controls the thumb using pressure sensors embedded inside their shoes. These connect via Bluetooth to the wrist-motors, which in turn move the thumb using a wire-system analogous to brakes on a bicycle.