Now researchers say such human augmentation could be on the horizon, suggesting additional robotic body parts could be designed to boost our capabilities. Makin said the extra thumb could be helpful for waiters holding plates, or for electrical engineers when soldering, for example, and other robotic body parts could be designed for particular workplace needs. Clode said an important feature of human augmentation devices is that they do not take away from the wearer’s original capabilities. A key aspect of that, Clode added, is that – unlike a spade being used to increase our abilities to dig a hole – such robotic body parts must not be hand-operated. Photograph: Tom StewartThe extra thumb, for example, is connected to two wrist-based motors that are hooked up to a battery and microcontroller on the upper arm.