This frame makes everything inside it appear to dance in slow motion

Take a close look at that framed feather. It’s fancy on its own, but when you push a button on the frame, it starts moving — dancing, even  — in slow motion. 

The device, called Slow Dance, is a free-floating frame with clips that allow you to attach any lightweight object inside. Anything you put in appears to suddenly move very slowly.

It looks like magic, but the effect is actually an illusion caused, in simple terms, by strobe lighting.

If you’ve ever been to a concert that used strobe lights, you’ll recall that the lights flicker on and off at a rate that makes it obvious that they’re flashing. But once lights start flashing at frequencies higher than 24 frames per second, the human eye can’t tell the difference between static images and moving ones. That’s why popular YouTubers who use slow motion often advertise their video’s frame rates — usually more than 1000 frames per second, compared to a normal video’s 30.

When strobe rate gets fast enough, movements will appear to be slowed down. That’s how the Slow Dance achieves its visual effect. The frame uses the same technology you’ve seen at a club, but on a smaller scale, with a faster strobe.

The frame is equipped with recessed LED lights on all sides, which are optimised at the right speeds to get certain effects. They flicker so quickly that your eyes don’t know it’s happening. And while the lights strobe, the mechanism that holds your object vibrates, shaking it back and forth 80 times per second, which creates the motion you observe.

After you attach an object, you can adjust the lighting mode on the bottom of the frame to choose different slow motion settings. One option makes it look like the object is jiggling around very slowly. Another makes it look like you’re seeing the item in double vision. Another seems like a movie with a choppy frame rate.

It’d make for a great conversation starter if you have it in your home. The Slow Dance is for sale on Kickstarter for $249 per frame. The project shot through its initial fundraising goal of $70,000, and the campaign has raised over $389,000 as of writing.

To most passersby, this looks like pure magic. But sometimes, simple engineering gets just as close. 

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