Flicker Observer Effect: Guiding Attention Through High Frequency Flicker in Images

Nicholas Waldin, Manuela Waldner, Ivan Viola
Flicker Observer Effect: Guiding Attention Through High Frequency Flicker in Images
Computer Graphics Forum, 36(2), May 2017. [paper]

Information

Abstract

Drawing the user's gaze to an important item in an image or a graphical user interface is a common challenge. Usually, some form of highlighting is used, such as a clearly distinct color or a border around the item. Flicker can also be very salient, but is often perceived as annoying. In this paper, we explore high frequency flicker (60 to 72 Hz) to guide the user's attention in an image. At such high frequencies, the critical flicker frequency (CFF) threshold is reached, which makes the flicker appear to fuse into a stable signal. However, the CFF is not uniform across the visual field, but is higher in the peripheral vision at normal lighting conditions. Through experiments, we show that high frequency flicker can be easily detected by observers in the peripheral vision, but the signal is hardly visible in the foveal vision when users directly look at the flickering patch. We demonstrate that this property can be used to draw the user's attention to important image regions using a standard high refresh-rate computer monitor with minimal visible modifications to the image. In an uncalibrated visual search task, users could in a crowded image easily spot the specified search targets flickering with very high frequency. They also reported that high frequency flicker was distracting when they had to attend to another region, while it was hardly noticeable when looking at the flickering region itself.

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BibTeX

@article{Waldin_Nicholas_2017_FlickerObserver,
  title =      "Flicker Observer Effect: Guiding Attention Through High
               Frequency Flicker in Images",
  author =     "Nicholas Waldin and Manuela Waldner and Ivan Viola",
  year =       "2017",
  abstract =   "Drawing the user's gaze to an important item in an image or
               a graphical user interface is a common challenge. Usually,
               some form of highlighting is used, such as a clearly
               distinct color or a border around the item. Flicker can also
               be very salient, but is often perceived as annoying. In this
               paper, we explore high frequency flicker (60 to 72 Hz) to
               guide the user's attention in an image. At such high
               frequencies, the critical flicker frequency (CFF) threshold
               is reached, which makes the flicker appear to fuse into a
               stable signal. However, the CFF is not uniform across the
               visual field, but is higher in the peripheral vision at
               normal lighting conditions. Through experiments, we show
               that high frequency flicker can be easily detected by
               observers in the peripheral vision, but the signal is hardly
               visible in the foveal vision when users directly look at the
               flickering patch. We demonstrate that this property can be
               used to draw the user's attention to important image regions
               using a standard high refresh-rate computer monitor with
               minimal visible modifications to the image. In an
               uncalibrated visual search task, users could in a crowded
               image easily spot the specified search targets flickering
               with very high frequency. They also reported that high
               frequency flicker was distracting when they had to attend to
               another region, while it was hardly noticeable when looking
               at the flickering region itself.",
  month =      may,
  journal =    "Computer Graphics Forum",
  number =     "2",
  volume =     "36",
  URL =        "https://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/research/publications/2017/Waldin_Nicholas_2017_FlickerObserver/",
}