The extra thumb you never knew you needed

What keeps you up at night?

Paying the bills? Family troubles? Or maybe it’s the reminder of being an average human when you look down and realise you have just the two thumbs?

It’s probably not that last one, but there is a possible solution to that conundrum, should it ever start to bother you.

Dani Clode, a student at the Royal College of Art, created “The Third Thumb,” a wearable prosthetic that gives wearers an extra digit. The thumb itself was made with a 3D printer, a flexible material named Ninjaflex and a plastic filament within the thumb that allows it to bend.

The rest of the prosthetic’s structure is 3D-printed as well. Its cover is made from grey resin and the cable system connecting all of its parts is made out of teflon tubing and wire.

The user wears the prosthetic on their wrist and the extra digit rests next to the pinky finger. Two motors on the user’s wrist move the thumb, and those are controlled by Bluetooth-connected pressure sensors in the wearer’s shoes.


She also writes on her website that the thumb has two “potential aesthetic territories”: one as a wearable tool and the other as a piece of kinetic jewellry.

The piece of jewellry, Clode writes, would be “purely aesthetic” and made from black formlabs resin, a 3D-printed material. It would still be able to bend like a thumb along its joints — perhaps the only purpose it would really have.  

The extra digit, as seen in the video, can help wearers complete simple tasks such as picking up wine glasses or playing a chord on the guitar.

3D printers have been used in lots of innovative ways — such as architecture and tattooing — but one of its most practical possibilities is making prosthetics more affordable for people in need. With this project, Clode hopes to expand on that by shifting the focus from “‘fixing’ disability’ to extending ability,” she told Dezeen.

So, in the future, it may be weird if you only have two thumbs. But I’m happy with my regulation two for now.

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