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Evaluating initial usability of a hand augmentation device across a large and diverse sample.

Clode, Dani; Dowdall, Lucy; da Silva, Edmund; Selén, Klara; Cowie, Dorothy; Dominijanni, Giulia; Makin, Tamar R

Evaluating initial usability of a hand augmentation device across a large and diverse sample. Thumbnail


Dani Clode

Lucy Dowdall

Edmund da Silva

Klara Selén

Giulia Dominijanni

Tamar R Makin


The advancement of motor augmentation and the broader domain of human-machine interaction rely on a seamless integration with users' physical and cognitive capabilities. These considerations may markedly fluctuate among individuals on the basis of their age, form, and abilities. There is a need to develop a standard for considering these diversity needs and preferences to guide technological development, and large-scale testing can provide us with evidence for such considerations. Public engagement events provide an important opportunity to build a bidirectional discourse with potential users for the codevelopment of inclusive and accessible technologies. We exhibited the Third Thumb, a hand augmentation device, at a public engagement event and tested participants from the general public, who are often not involved in such early technological development of wearable robotic technology. We focused on wearability (fit and control), ability to successfully operate the device, and ability levels across diversity factors relevant for physical technologies (gender, handedness, and age). Our inclusive design was successful in 99.3% of our diverse sample of 596 individuals tested (age range from 3 to 96 years). Ninety-eight percent of participants were further able to successfully manipulate objects using the extra thumb during the first minute of use, with no significant influences of gender, handedness, or affinity for hobbies involving the hands. Performance was generally poorer among younger children (aged ≤11 years). Although older and younger adults performed the task comparably, we identified age costs with the older adults. Our findings offer tangible demonstration of the initial usability of the Third Thumb for a broad demographic.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 25, 2024
Online Publication Date May 29, 2024
Publication Date May 29, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 3, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 10, 2024
Journal Science Robotics
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 90
Article Number eadk5183
Keywords Female, Man-Machine Systems, Young Adult, Child, Hand - physiology, Male, Wearable Electronic Devices, Adult, Thumb, Aged, 80 and over, Humans, Aged, Robotics - instrumentation, Child, Preschool, Adolescent, Equipment Design, Middle Aged
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