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Not all pulsations are alike:
Our brain is finely attuned to pulsations, and our attention is spontaneously attracted to vibrating phenomena. This is obvious enough with, for example, the mesmerizing effect of stroboscopes.But why should we be interested in pulsing light, apart from its uses in disco light ambiance?
Light Modulation overcomes two basic limitations of stroboscope-like lighting effects. First, stroboscopic light pulses generally alternate between fully-On and fully-Off states, producing intense flashes as illustrated in Figure 1a. However this need not be so: modern lighting technology allows a more sophisticated proportional control of light intensity, which can be used to generate more subtle pulsing variations, as shown in Figure 1b. The depth of such pulsations can be made so small that the resulting effect is barely perceptible, creating a gentle, shimmering vibration instead of a brain-hammering flicker.
Secondly, stroboscopic light usually involves a single pulsing light source acting on the whole visual field. A better understanding of finer details of the visual system now allows us to create more complex light patterns with an adapted emphasis on various parts of the visual field. Multi-zone, synchronized light projections can exploit the laterality and peripheral sensitivity of the eye-brain structure, resulting in subtler perceptual influences.
Once these limitations are removed, pulsing patterns add a new, fascinating dimension to the way we perceive light. Through the dynamic and fluid quality they bring, light suddenly becomes “alive”.