Science & Technology

Check Out This Creepy Detached Finger for Your Phone

Every year, it feels like there's a fresh avalanche of new phones. There's no limit to the letters they can tack onto the end of the iPhone, Galaxy, or Pixel. But forget about wireless charging and dual cameras. The newest smartphone upgrade is unlike any other technology you've ever seen — and not necessarily in a good way. It's a disembodied finger ... for your phone.

Finally? A Phone with Fingers?

Why. Why? WHY!? Why would you take a perfectly ordinary phone and add a working finger to it? The bad news is, we're not totally sure. The good news? It works really well. Before we get into the "why," let's talk about the "how." In its matte-black robot form (the much more palatable way to look at it), the MobiLimb is a two-jointed device that anchors to the USB port at the bottom of a smartphone. It bends like a finger and can be moved directly, controlled from the phone, or set to move in a pre-programmed fashion.

Watch This Creepy Thing in Action

There's something very uncanny valley about the way that it moves — you know that it isn't real, but because of the five precise motors contained in the tiny device, it can emulate the movement of an actual finger with uneasy accuracy. But just in case the sight of a mobile phone with a moving robot finger isn't off-putting enough, designer Marc Teyssier has created two skins to make it more lifelike. One turns the finger into a furry swaying tail for a digital cat (again, why?), and the other even creepier skin transforms it into an actual human finger. Perfect for gently stroking your hand while you scroll — and yes, that's also an actual thing this finger is programmed to do.

Fing-tionality

We're still struggling to understand why somebody would want this on their phone, and the truth is that Teyssier probably made it to prove that he could, rather than because the market thought he should. Still, he went all-out in finding a ton of different uses for this extra digit. Here are a few of our stomach-churning favorites:

  • Gently stroke your hand. Yes, we already mentioned this. But come on.
  • Move itself across the table. Think a cybernetic "Thing" from The Addams Family.
  • Twist around back to use as a handle. Or you could, you know, just hold your phone.
  • Prop itself up to use as a stand. This one is probably the most practical, but still, an actual phone stand is probably cheaper.
  • Stick a stinger on the end and pretend its a scorpion. Okay, he's got to be trolling us at this point. Still, it would make a great Halloween accessory for the tech-head in your life.

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Kenji Kawakami is the real master of the weird and useless invention. He's been curating chindogu ("weird tools") since the 1960s, and you can explore a big part of his collection in "The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions." We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Reuben Westmaas October 25, 2018

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