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Industry News
Measurement Procedure For Quantifying Perceptible Flicker Proposed In LRC ASSIST Publication
June 10, 2015

The Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST), a program of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has released a publication that proposes a new method of evaluating human perception of directly observed light source flicker. The publication, ASSIST recommends…Recommended Metric for Assessing the Direct Perception of Light Source Flicker, provides specific measurement procedures and calculations to objectively determine whether the amount of flicker from a light source is above or below the threshold of human perception. The metric is applicable to any waveform shape and frequency and is based on peer-reviewed laboratory and human factors experiments.

The increasing popularity of LED and solid-state lighting has led to a renewed interest in light source flicker and methods of evaluating the perception and acceptance of flicker. Compatibility of LED lamps with dimming circuits designed for incandescent lamps is an application of particular concern regarding flicker. Existing metrics, specifically percent flicker and flicker index, describe aspects of the physical waveform, says LRC senior research scientist Andrew Bierman, but do not relate it to human perception, nor do they include the frequency of the flicker, which is important to determining its perception.
 
“The purpose of the metric proposed is to accurately and objectively predict the perception of flicker for any lamp, regardless of its light output waveform or frequency,” said Bierman. Calculation of the metric starts with a relative light output waveform measurement and finishes with a single numerical result indicating whether the amount of flicker is above or below the threshold of human perception. Additionally, the result can be expressed as a probability of a viewer being able to detect flicker from a light source.
 
To validate the metric, 220 different waveforms were tested in a human factors experiment with 10 subjects to determine the flicker observation rate of each waveform and the metric’s ability to predict the observation. The metric also was used to predict the flicker perception of five previously untested commercial A-lamps. The flicker metric development and validation results are described in the paper, “A flicker perception metric,” which is now in press with Lighting Research and Technology journal (doi: 10.1177/1477153515581006).
 
Nadarajah Narendran, Ph.D., LRC director of research and organizer of the ASSIST program, notes that the goal of ASSIST’s proposed flicker metric is to give manufacturers a tool for evaluating their lamp designs for flicker. “The LRC and ASSIST’s industry members are interested in understanding flicker, its causes and solutions, and at what level it is detectable and acceptable to users,” said Dr. Narendran. He added that laboratories can easily create their own test setups based on this method to quantify the amount direct flicker produced by a light source.
 
The ASSIST recommends publication is available for free from the ASSIST website at http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/solidstate/assist/recommends/flicker.asp. To further show the metric calculation procedure, also included for download are several waveform examples that can be used with the sample Matlab code included in the publication’s appendices. Also available online are two previous flicker publications from ASSIST dealing with the perception of indirect flicker, also known as stroboscopic effects.
 
About ASSIST
The Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST) was established in 2002 by the Lighting Research Center as a collaboration between researchers, manufacturers, and government organizations. ASSIST’s mission is to enable the broad adoption of solid-state lighting by providing factual information based on applied research and by visualizing future applications. The Lighting Research Center conducts research, demonstration, and educational activities on behalf of ASSIST. ASSIST is sponsored by 3M; Acuity Brands Lighting; Amerlux; BAE Systems; Bridgelux; Crouse-Hinds by Eaton; Cree; Dow Corning; Federal Aviation Administration; GE Lighting Solutions; Hubbell Lighting; Legrand; Lumileds; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); OSRAM SYLVANIA/OSRAM Opto Semiconductors; Philips Lighting; Samsung; Seoul Semiconductor; United States Environmental Protection Agency. Visit www.lrc.rpi.edu/assist.
 

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