The omega machine is a programmable microfluidic control environment that can "see" the state of the chemical system and adjust a combinatorially complex set of control signals appropriately. It differs from the control center of a chemical plant both in the degree of monitoring and control, with significant combinatorial complexity, and in that the spatial control elements and spatially resolved sensors are on the same microscopic scale as the individual cells formed by the system. This qualitative jump in integration allows one to smoothly transfer functionality and information between the chemical system and the computerized control system: specific information in the control system can be associated with individual cells. Following the reconfigurable hardware approach to evolvable systems, the omega machine then allows part of the heritable information of a cell to be complemented by information in the computer. The omega machine is named to reflect the end-goal ("omega point") oriented evolution that is made possible in such a programmable environment device.