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Facebook just invented a new measure of time. Here's when you'll need it

POSTED January 24, 2018 8:19 a.m.
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Facebook unveiled a new product this week called Flicks, which is a new measure of time that is about 1/705,600,000 of a second, according to The Verge.

For context, a nanosecond is defined as 1/1,000,000,000 of a second, which means a Flick is 1.41723356 nanoseconds long.

Facebook’s Oculus Rift team announced the new measure of time. It will help that team measure frame rates while recording and editing video and audio.

In fact, it can help anyone record and edit audio and video.

“The name itself is a portmanteau of the phase ‘frame-tick,’ which is also why you might want to use them,” according to The Verge. “Flicks are designed to help measure individual frame duration for video frame rates. So whether your video is 24hz, 25hz, 30hz, 48hz, 50hz, 60hz, 90hz, 100hz, or 120hz, you’ll be able to use Flicks to ensure that everything is in sync while still using whole integers (instead of decimals).”

So what does that look like in practice? TechCrunch explains it pretty well. Let’s say you’re editing video and trying to cut a frame at 1/24th of a second. In decimals, that measures about 0.041666666, with the number “6” going on forever. Often, people will round up to 0.0417.

However, flicks give you the capability to measure that same number as 29,400,000 flicks, a nice round number.

That may not be easy to remember, “but it makes them a heck of a lot simpler for systems to match with one another without creating some kind of inter-format fraction that has to be resolved with yet another adjusting frequency,” according to TechCrunch.

“In other words, the flick is a brilliant time unit meant to fix time problems for people and computers who deal with video and audio content production and distribution on a regular basis,” according to BGR.

Christopher Horvath, a former architect at Facebook’s Story Studio, said he spent “weeks and weeks” designing the new measure of time.

The new Facebook product comes as rumors circulated that Facebook had halted its Oculus Rift and virtual reality technology. However, Oculus' Vice President of Content Jason Rubin said virtual reality remains a priority at the company.

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