There are few more iconic items than the lava lamp. Throughout the 1970s, there can hardly have been a trendily-furnished home that didn’t boast at least one of them, and probably more. After all, they made for amazing decorations as the specially-colored oil was heated and illuminated to create mesmeric, almost psychedelic, shapes that were also completely random and unpredictable.
It’s this unpredictability, rather than the visual appeal, that might one day change the way in which online casinos run many of their games. This is because it addresses a central issue for an online casino – how exactly to replicate the randomness of the physical world in a digital environment. For example, a roulette ball can land anywhere on the wheel, driven by the laws of physics. But when it’s a virtual one driven by software, how can you possibly recreate the effect?
This is also true of more recent additions to online casinos like slingo games. An appealing coming together of slots and bingo, titles like Slingo Reveal and Slingo Riches, have proved to be a big hit with players. That’s because they combine the simplicity of bingo with the excitement of slots, while also including more game features and bonuses than the former can manage.
At the moment, all online casino games like Slingo, roulette, and blackjack use something called a pseudo-random number generator to introduce the required randomness. This is an algorithm that uses a so-called seed to set it in motion and then proceeds to generate a string of random numbers. It’s these numbers that, when converted to the spin of a wheel or a reel or the turn of a virtual card, dictate what the result will be.
No one can deny that these are very effective at recreating randomness – and online casinos are frequently checked to ensure that play is 100% fair. But it can’t get around the fact that computers are logical, so trying to create genuine randomness is always going to be a challenge.
So, to get back to our lava lamps, these are a very surprising way that one company has devised to generate genuine randomness. They’re called Cloudflare and they operate in many different areas of cloud computing. Walk into the lobby of their US headquarters and you’ll see 100 of the lamps arranged on shelves in front of a camera. This is constantly capturing images of the lamps, converting them to pixels, and ascribing numbers to each one. This provides them with a genuinely unique, and constantly changing seed that is then used to generate random numbers.
The fact that it’s in the lobby with visitors and staff often walking between the camera and the lamps adds to the randomness. Many of Cloudflare’s clients in a wide range of sectors are already using the lamps for their own number generation, although it’s unknown if any are involved in online gaming. But, given the sector’s interest in security and innovation, many online casinos could well be signing up before long.