Tactile displays provoke tactile sensations by artificially stimulating tactile receptors. While many types of tactile displays have been developed, electrotactile displays that exploit electric stimulation can be designed to be thin, light, flexible and thus, wearable. However, the high voltages required to stimulate tactile receptors and limited varieties of possible sensations pose problems. In our previous work, we developed an electrotactile display using a micro-needle electrode array that can drastically reduce the required voltage by penetrating through the high-impedance stratum corneum painlessly, but displaying various tactile sensations was still a challenge. In this work, we demonstrate presentation of tactile sensation of different roughness to the subjects, which is enabled by the arrangement of the electrodes; the needle electrodes are on the fingertip and the ground electrode is on the fingernail. With this arrangement, the display can stimulate the tactile receptors that are located not only in the shallow regions of the finger but also those in the deep regions. It was experimentally revealed that the required voltage was further reduced compared to previous devices and that the roughness presented by the display was controlled by the pulse frequency and the switching time, or the stimulation flow rate. The proposed electrotactile display is readily applicable as a new wearable haptic device for advanced information communication technology.
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