Coldness Presentation to Ventral Forearm using Electrical Stimulation with Elastic Gel and Anesthetic Cream

AHs '23: Proceedings of the Augmented Humans International Conference 2023(2023)

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To augment and enhance VR experience, various devices have been proposed to provide thermal sensations. In particular, Peltier devices are commonly used to induce cold sensations. However, these devices are unsuitable for long-term use due to high energy consumption. This study investigates the use of electrical stimulation to generate thermal sensation in the arm for future wearable applications. Due to its small size and low power requirements, electrical stimulation is unlikely to interfere with body movement or disrupt immersion. Furthermore, providing thermal sensation to the arm is expected to enhance immersion in VR content without interfering with hand movements. In addition, tactile sensation can also be presented by the electrical stimulation. However, electrical stimulation to the arm normally cannot provide a stable temperature sensation because pain threshold is too close to tactile and temperature threshold. We tackled this issue by two ways; one is by applying a gel layer to the arm to suppress the pain sensation by diffusing the current, and the other is by using local anesthetic cream. As a result, we found that electrical stimulation to the arm generated a cold sensation at several points out of 61 electrodes in both cases. The results of the evaluation experiments revealed that stimulation pulse width and polarity of electrical stimulation gave little effect, while there seems to be a trend that anodic stimulation using the gel tended to generate a cold sensation at relatively high intensity, and cathodic stimulation using either the gel and local anesthetic cream tended to have cold sensation over a wider area.
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