Facebook Experiments With New Unit of Time Called The ‘Flick’

A Facebook engineer has created a new unit of time called the flick.

Flick is short for “frame-tick” and measures 1/705,600,000 of a second.

The flick was created by Christopher Horvath and a team of his colleagues at Facebook R&D. According to the Gihub description, the project began as a “technical question” posted by Horvath to his personal Facebook account.

According to the flick’s official Github page, it is the, “smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond, and can in integer quantities exactly represent a single frame duration…”

The flick is meant to, “exactly represent a single frame duration for 24 Hz, 25 Hz, 30 Hz, 48 Hz, 50 Hz, 60 Hz, 90 Hz, 100 Hz, 120 Hz, and also 1/1000 divisions of each.”

As a C- math student, just reading that made my palms sweat. However, all it really means is that the flick can make it easier for anyone working with digital screens to track, explain, and augment their creations.

For example, say you’re working on a 360° video. You want a big scary bear to appear behind your viewers at the exact right moment for maximum screams. Now, instead of telling one of your collaborators to have the bear enter “about fifteen seconds” into the video, you can tell them to unleash the beast “exactly 65 flicks after the fifteenth second.”

On a more technical level, flick’s can be helpful for programers as well as artists, giving them a way to measure split-second timing between video frames without having to use cumbersome fractions.

According to the lead research engineer at BBC Research and Development, Matt Hammond, “[The flick] can reduce errors such as stutters in graphics.”

This type of precision is especially important when working within the all-important frame rates of high-end VR headsets. In such an immersive environment, even a micro-delay can derail the experience you’re trying to create. And so Facebook has created a unit of micro-time to keep everything properly synced.

An Oxford University researcher, who chose to remain anonymous, told the BBC that, “Presence is very, very easy to break. I think perhaps a very fixed way of describing these time steps allows for developers to have a bit more flexibility in dealing with latency issues and making sure videos stay in sync.”

Presence is the secret sauce on VR’s Big Mac. It’s the feeling of forgetting where you actually are and completely accepting the new reality inside your headset. Increasing a headset or experience’s ability to induce feelings of presence is a major concern for the corporations driving VR’s growth such as Facebook, Google, Sony and Microsoft.

With innovations like this, the next generation of immersive technology may be only a few flicks away.

About the Scout

Joe Durbin

Joe Durbin writes words for a living. These words are about virtual and augmented reality.

Send this to a friend