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Rolling Shutter Imaging on the Electric Grid

Mark Sheinin, Yoav Y. Schechner and Kiriakos N. Kutulakos
ICCP 2018 talk (starts at 20:10s)

Flicker of AC-powered lights is useful for probing the electric grid and unmixing reflected contributions of different sources. Flicker has been sensed in great detail with a specially-designed camera tethered to an AC outlet. We argue that even an untethered smartphone can achieve the same task. We exploit the inter-row exposure delay of the ubiquitous rolling-shutter sensor. When pixel exposure time is kept short,
this delay creates a spatiotemporal wave pattern that encodes (1) the precise capture time relative to the AC, (2) the response
function of individual bulbs, and (3) the AC phase that powers them.
To sense point sources, we induce the spatiotemporal wave pattern by placing a star filter or a paper diffuser in front of the camera's lens.
We demonstrate several new capabilities, including: high-rate acquisition of bulb response functions from one smartphone photo; recognition of bulb type and phase from one or two images; and rendering of live flicker video, as if it came from a high speed global-shutter camera.

  1. Mark Sheinin, Yoav Y. Schechner and Kiriakos. N. Kutulakos, “Rolling Shutter Imaging on the Electric Grid,” In Proc. IEEE ICCP (2018). (pdf)


author = {M. Sheinin and Y. Y. Schechner and K. N. Kutulakos},
title = {{Rolling Shutter Imaging on the Electric Grid}},
journal = {Proc. IEEE ICCP},
year = {2018},


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