Insight & Analysis

Right in the ‘flick’ of time

Published: Jan 2018

Facebook engineer invents a new unit of time.

Hours, minutes and seconds are the only units of time required to survive day-to-day for most humans. But being at the forefront of technological innovation requires precise measurements.

To account for this, an engineer from Facebook’s virtual reality division has invented the ‘flick’, a new unit slightly larger than a nanosecond.

Created not to give those obsessed with time management an even more precise way to measure punctuality; flick is actually designed to help developers keep video effects in sync. This happens by giving programmers a way to measure the time between media frames without using fractions.

In an interview with BBC News, Matt Hammond, Lead Research Engineer at BBC Research and Development, said this can reduce errors such as stutters in graphics. “When the numbers used are not integers, errors can gradually creep into computer calculations. These errors can build up over time, eventually causing inaccuracies that become noticeable,” he said.

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