A Stylish Coffee Table Featuring Conway’s Game Of Life

Coffee tables are a great place to put your hot beverages, but most don’t offer a lot beyond that. For most people this is perfectly acceptable, but hackers often desire a little more. [Andrei Erdei] is one such person, who built Conway’s Game of Life into this handsome piece of furniture.

The build began with an existing coffee table, chosen for its glass top. Unfortunately, the top was painted black on one side, and was completely opaque, negating its use as a diffuser for LEDs. Instead, this was replaced with smoked glass, with frosted window film applied to make the final piece darker. This attention to detail allowed [Andrei] to install the WS2812B LED strips underneath such that they’re invisible when switched off. The LEDs themselves are run by a WEMOS D1 mini, based on the ESP8266. This microcontroller has plenty of grunt, which makes running the LEDs and the Game of Life code a cinch.

If you want to make something attractive and blinky, it’s hard to go wrong with Conway’s Game of Life. You can even use it to make a clock or a synthesizer; or build an entire game of Tetris within it. Video after the break.

11 thoughts on “A Stylish Coffee Table Featuring Conway’s Game Of Life

  1. Nice build. Problem with Conway’s rules is that you get static or dead worlds pretty fast, so you have to constantly reset the world. It might be a good idea to “seed” the world with a few canons or count life pixels and plant “42” patterns or something if the world becomes to sterile.
    But … nice build.

    1. There’s a load of different rule sets you can apply to Conway to produce all sorts of odd effects. Then there’s always weirdoes trying to do it with hexagons or circles or in 3D.

      I wrote a Life implementation years ago, after apparently figuring out DJGPP well enough to get it to compile stuff. You could change all sorts of rules and it was fantastic. Also had feedback that sort of appeared by accident that looked like you were flying down a tunnel. Fast animation on a 486-100, parly helped by a few optimisations, like when you’re analysing a cell, and adding together the occupants in adjacent cells, why not keep that result so you don’t have to access it and calculate it again for the next cell on?

      Anyway… What do people use to compile C in nowadays that doesn’t cost money and isn’t evil? I think DJGPP just sort of evaporated. DJGPP was a port of GNU C to Windows btw, and it worked very well.

      “Parity” is one of my favourite rule sets. It appears to work like a magic photocopier, going through stages of garbage, but eventually ending up producing 8 indentical copies of what you put there! Then the next step will be garbage again until we get to copies of the copies. Eventually it will fill it’s entire space.

      It seems indecipherable. But if you actually thing about it for a minute, it’s obvious, and it couldn’t NOT be that way! I can’t remember the answer now but whatever it is I figured it out the other day and felt godlike for an hour. It’s probably a commonly-known thing, Life fans are mostly mathematicians. They get all that.

  2. Many years ago I had acquired a DEC VT-05 terminal. I wanted to test the addressable cursor feature, so I wrote a Game of Life to run on the mainframe, updating the image on the 80×24 screen by writing to the character positions that had changed….at 300 baud.

    It still looked cool, even if it was slow. No video, sorry. This was 1975.

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