Enhancing Human Potential: The Future of Motor Augmentation Technology




An emerging field in future technology is motor augmentation, which involves using motorized wearable devices like exoskeletons or additional robotic body parts to enhance our motor capabilities beyond natural biological limits.

These devices hold the promise of not only boosting productivity for healthy individuals but also offering new ways for people with disabilities to interact with their surroundings.

Professor Tamar Makin from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at the University of Cambridge highlights, “Technology is redefining what it means to be human, with machines becoming integral to our daily lives, and even our minds and bodies.

“These innovations present thrilling opportunities to benefit society, but it’s crucial to ensure they help all people equally, particularly marginalized communities who are often excluded from research and development.

“To guarantee everyone can participate in and benefit from these advancements, inclusivity must be integrated and measured from the earliest stages of the research and development process.”

Dani Clode, a collaborator in Professor Makin’s lab, has created the Third Thumb, a robotic thumb designed to increase the wearer’s range of motion, enhance grasping ability, and expand the hand’s carrying capacity. This innovation allows users to perform tasks that may be difficult or impossible with one hand or to execute complex multi-handed tasks without needing to coordinate with others.

The Third Thumb is worn on the opposite side of the palm from the biological thumb and is controlled by pressure sensors placed under each big toe. Pressure from the right toe moves the Thumb across the hand, while pressure from the left toe moves it towards the fingers. The extent of the Thumb’s movement corresponds to the pressure applied, and releasing the pressure returns it to its original position.

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