- Title: Pianists fitted with robotic thumb can play with all 11 digits
- Date: 25th August 2021
- Summary: COMO, ITALY (AUGUST 12, 2021) (REUTERS) (QUALITY AS INCOMING) (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR ALDO FAISAL, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON, SAYING: "So what we can say is it's a proof of existence. We can do it. So the next challenge would be can we do 2 thumbs? So 12 fingered. Can we do something else? What was important to us is that we apply this technology to piano playing because that's an actual skill. It's not just picking up with something and doing something."
- Embargoed: 8th September 2021 10:23
- Keywords: Faisal Lab Imperial College London Professor Aldo Faisal Robotic thumb extra digit piano players can play with eleven fingers
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK / COMO, ITALY
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK / COMO, ITALY
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Europe,Science
- Reuters ID: LVA008ERS1FFF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITOR'S NOTE: PART QUALITY AS INCOMING
Within an hour of being fitted with a robotic extra thumb, pianists can learn to play with all eleven digits, according to researchers in London.
The team strapped a robotic third thumb to the right hand of 12 people, 6 piano players and six non-players, to test how their brains would cope with the new digit.
"It came out of my own passion for piano that I wondered what happens if I have an extra finger?" Adlo Faisal, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience jointly at the Dept. of Bioengineering and the Dept. of Computing at Imperial College London, where he leads the Brain & Behaviour Lab, told Reuters.
"There's a dedicated area of your brain responsible for every single finger," Faisal said.
"So now comes the question, if I give you an eleventh finger, where do you represent it? Where do you think about this eleventh finger?"
The robotic third thumb is strapped to a user's right hand next to the little finger and controlled by electrical signals generated when the pianist moves their foot.
They found that regardless of playing ability, they all adapted to the thumb quickly, suggesting we are not limited to using an extra digit for tasks we are familiar with.
"So what we can say is it's a proof of existence. We can do it. So the next challenge would be can we do 2 thumbs, so 12 fingered? Can we do something else?" Faisal said.
(Production: Stuart McDill)
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