The Game of Office Decoration

Life LogoThis week I had a discussion with a colleague of mine about decoration for the new office rooms we hired. We thought of an Arduino based project, because it would just be cool to have some fun with the gadget.

We could make a giant board filled with buttons with a led in them. You’d press a button to toggle it. This board could be controlled by an Arduino and display several things on it. A clock for instance or news headlines from an arbitrary RSS feed or… since they’re buttons, Conway’s Game of Life!

Conway’s Game of Life is a cellular automaton. It is a discrete model which can used in studies like mathematics, theoretical biology and physics. The rules are pretty simple. There is a grid filled with cells which are alive or dead. In each ‘turn’ (iteration) the number of alive neighbors are counted for every cell. If a cell is currently dead and it has exactly three alive neighbor cells that cell will be alive in the next iteration. If a cell is alive and it has less than two or more than three alive neighbors it dies. This way you can model certain patterns with it, run the simulation game for a couple of iterations and see what it does.

I found implementations in Java and C#. I made one in JavaScript using HTML for the gui. Check it out and play with it. There is a lot of information on this game on Wikipedia, including all kinds of ‘famous patterns‘ and many links.

Conway’s Game of Life example is viewed best with Google Chrome or Safari (because of WebKit). It does work in other browsers too but way slower, especially Internet Explorer isn’t very good in processing the Javscript game.

UPDATE: I found another site explaining the mathematical interesting nature of Conway’s Game of Life.

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