Quantifying the visibility of periodic flicker

M. Perz, D. Sekulovski, I.M.L.C. Vogels, I.E.J. Heynderickx

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Three experiments that measure the visibility of periodic flicker are presented. Temporal light modulations were presented to a large visual field to make the results valid for general lighting applications. In addition, the experiments were designed to control for flicker adaptation. In the first experiment, the sensitivity of human observers to light modulations with a sinusoidal waveform at several temporal frequencies up to 80 Hz was measured. The results showed that the sensitivity to flicker (that is, the inverse of the Michelson contrast) is as high as 500 for frequencies between 10 and 20 Hz, which is more than twice the maximum sensitivity reported in the literature. In the second experiment, the sensitivity to flicker for light modulations with complex waveforms, composed of two or three frequency components, was measured. Sensitivity to flicker was found to be higher than the sum of the sensitivities of the individual frequency components of the complex waveform. Based on these results, we defined the flicker visibility measure (FVM), predicting flicker visibility by a weighted summation of the relative energy of the frequency components of the waveform. In the third experiment, sensitivity to realistic waveforms (that is, waveforms of light emitting diode [LED] light sources available on the market) was measured. The flicker predictions of FVM showed a high correlation with the experimental data, in contrast to some other existing flicker measures, including flicker index and percent flicker, demonstrating the usefulness of the measure to objectively assess the visibility of periodic flicker for lighting applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalLEUKOS: The Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • flicker
  • quality of light
  • temporal light artefacts
  • visibility threshold
  • visual perception


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