LIFETIME Clock: The Game of Life with a new seed!

Introducing the LIFETIME Clock…

A clock that not only keeps precise time, but seeds and plays the Conway’s Game of Life with the current time.


LifeTime Clock: showing current time and the world of Conway’s Game of Life. Now sporting its new two-part enclosure machined from HDPE (High-Density PolyEthelene). Changes include a seconds “progress bar” at the bottom of the screen and a larger font used for the hours and minutes.

For the LIFETIME Clock, TIME becomes the seed for LIFE. 

Profound, huh!

For those of you, like me, who first cut your teeth on UNIX-based machines, you would probably be familiar with the original Game or Life as it was often used as a screen-saver (back when you needed to save screens from burning).

According to Wikipedia, the Game of Life, also known as Life, “is a cellular automaton devised by the British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970“.  The game, is really not a game as such but a a simulation whereby the evolution of the game play is determined by its initial conditions. In many versions of the game, the initial conditions are a random distribution of cells, but in others, the initial condition may be a specific pattern that has really interesting and emergent properties.  However the initial conditions are established – random or specific – from this initial state the world evolve from one generation to the next guided by four very simple rules.

Again from Wikipedia (because it is expressed so lucidly):

… the universe of the Game of Life is an infinite two-dimensional orthogonal grid of square cells, each of which is in one of two possible states, alive or dead. Every cell interacts with its eight neighbours, which are the cells that are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent. At each step in time [generation]  the following transitions occur:

1. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.

2. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by over-population.

3. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.

4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

The initial pattern constitutes the seed of the system. The first generation is created by applying the above rules simultaneously to every cell in the seed—births and deaths occur simultaneously, and the discrete moment at which this happens is sometimes called a tick (in other words, each generation is a pure function of the preceding one). The rules continue to be applied repeatedly to create further generations.

The LIFETIME Clock is built on a WeMos D1 Mini ESP8266 WiFi board connected to a 2.4″ 320×240 pixel OLED graphic display  using an I²C interface.

The software “world” of the Game of Life is a 64×64 grid of cells that is displayed on the lower part of the OLED.  Precise time is obtained from an NTP server (see my NET Clock) and is used to set a soft real-time clock that is displayed at the top of the screen.  Large (10 x 16) font characters were created for the numbers 0 to 9 and at the start of each minute the cell world is reseeded with the pixels of these large numerals that represent the current hours and minutes.

I bet you’ll never see another clock like it in your LifeTime!

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