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This hack is in the form of a IKEA Ribba picture frame that creates the illusion of real objects appearing to move in slow motion.

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This hack is in the form of a IKEA Ribba picture frame that creates the illusion of real objects appearing to move in slow motion. The magic behind this frame is that it seems to be doing the impossible right in front of your eyes. The original Slow Dance Frame, created by Jeff Lieberman, left us astounded to be able to view real-live objects move in slow motion with no evident form of manipulation. The concept is simple and remarkably executed. The picture frame is a reminder of the natural beauty and wonders that surround us daily. For those interested in the original, visit the following link:


There are various reasons why we decided to create our own:

  1. The size of the picture frame used for Slow Dance is much bigger than we desired. We wanted something a bit smaller for objects such as feathers up to around 6in long.
  2. For those interested in replicating, the picture frame we used is easily accessible.
  3. The electro-magnet and LED strips are be hidden from view as much as possible to make the frame look more stylish. The LED strip light also dims or brightens gradually when switching between modes of operation. 
  4. The LED strip light also lights up the back of the frame. This highlights the object’s movements if it is placed near a light colored wall. In addition, the back-lighting of the frame makes it a great wall light.

Building this frame requires the following: basic electronics component soldering skill and some knowledge on using the Arduino. An Arduino Nano/compatible micro-controller is what we use to get an electro-magnet to vibrate the objects within the frame and to pulse the LED strips, producing the strobe light effect.

How does it work? The objects placed within the frame vibrates at one frequency while strobes light on the objects at an offset frequency. The difference between the frequencies, or the “beat frequency”, creates an optical illusion.

  • If the vibration rate is faster or slower than the strobe light, it will produce a slow motion effect whose speed is proportional to the beat frequency.
  • If the objects vibrate at the same speed as the strobe light, then the objects will appear motionless
  • If the beat frequency is high, the vibrating objects will sporadically jump.

Caution: For those with epilepsy, be wary as exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns can trigger seizures. Most people will not even realize the LED lights are flashing because of how fast they’re strobing. However, if you experience discomfort looking lights,  stop looking at them immediately.


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