According to Facebook, Flick “is the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond.”

We all have been reading this from childhood and know that the units of time are second, minute and hour. But, in this revolutionary era of technology, this fact seems to be changing.

This time a group of engineers from Facebook (technically the Oculus team) has invented a new unit of time and that is “The Flick”. It is an open source unit of time to measure frame rate. In simple words, FLICK is the smallest unit of time that applies to measure the speed of Digital Audio and Video.

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The Technical Part

Flick:  A portmanteau that encapsulate the phrase “frame-tick.”

1 flick = 1/705,600,000 of a second = 1.417233560090703e-9

For comparison,

1 nanosecond = 1/1,000,000,000 of a second, which means Flick is roughly 1.41723356 nanoseconds long.

Now you might be wondering what was wrong with the current unit of time that Facebook had to invent a new measure of time. Especially when there is an universal unit – Second, common across SI and imperial.

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Let’s drill into this new unit of time in depth

When you play your favorite video on your smart device, a particular number of frames appear on the screen every seconds. Consider a video game that plays 60 frames per second on your screen. It means every individual frame lasts on the display for 16.667 milliseconds. In addition if we calculate in Flick, each frame performs for 11,760,000 flicks. So whether your video is 24hz, 50hz, 90hz, 100hz, or 120hz, it will be easier to ensure in sync even after using whole integers instead of decimals with the help of Flick.

Have you ever noticed frame rates or frequencies used in encoding or in films and music? Something like  24 frames per second, 120 hertz TVs, 44.1 KHz sample rate audio. The entire film industry is revolving around 1/24th of a second which is equal to 0.0416666666666666… so on. So, in short the value is taken to its approximate face i.e. 0.04167 which is not numerically exact.

Using Flicks on other hand, it brings these fractional values into exact whole numbers, without bars and estimations required. And computer loves whole numbers.

For an instance, if we deal with 1/24th of a second, it appears as 29,400,000 Flicks and 1/120th is equal to 5,880,000 flicks. These numbers might not seem easier to remember but it facilitates  the system to match in a simpler manner avoiding inter-format fractions. 

Flick is completely open Source. Hence, this new time unit can be utilized and implemented by any other developers freely.

Faiz Akram is an engineer, a writer and a philosopher by nature. Always passionate about spreading knowledge and awareness among people. He is a blogger and a tech savvy. He also loves to capture moments with the click of his camera. He purely believes what we do in life echoes in eternity. His favorite quote is, 'Be a voice, not an echo'.