The application of tactile, audible, and ultrasonic forces to human fingertips using broadband electroadhesion

Craig Shultz*, Michael Peshkin, J. Edward Colgate

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We report an electroadhesive approach to controlling friction forces on sliding fingertips which is capable of producing vibrations across an exceedingly broad range of tactile, audible, and ultrasonic frequencies. Vibrations on the skin can be felt directly, and vibrations in the air can be heard emanating from the finger. Additionally, we report evidence from an investigation of the electrical dynamics of the system suggesting that an air gap at the skin/surface interface is primarily responsible for the induced electrostatic attraction underlying the electroadhesion effect. We developed an experimental apparatus capable of recording friction forces up to a frequency of 6 kHz, and used it to characterize two different electroadhesive systems, both of which exhibit flat force magnitude responses throughout the measurement range. These systems use custom electrical hardware to modulate a high frequency current and apply surprisingly low distortion, broadband forces to the skin. Recordings of skin vibrations with a laser Doppler vibrometer demonstrate the tactile capabilities of the system, while recordings of vibrations in the air with a MEMS microphone quantify the audible response and reveal the existence of ultrasonic forces applied to the skin via electronic friction modulation. Implications for surface haptic and audio-haptic displays are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Haptics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Audio-tactile display
  • Electroadhesion
  • Electrovibration
  • Haptic display
  • Surface haptics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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