Want to Up Innovation at Work? Take a Break.

Sometimes the most efficient way to rejuvenate is to take a break from actually working. Google has a practice where engineers spend 20 percent of their time on company-related projects that appeal to their personal interests. They take a break from normal projects and create something that lets their creative pulses beat a little faster. In fact, you’ve probably heard of some of the projects that have come out of the 20% time. They include Gmail (really!), Google News, AdSense, Google Talk and Google Sky.

At Smashing Boxes, we’re all about encouraging our team to hone their talents in a personal way, too. The last Friday of each month is Smashing Labs, a day dedicated to letting our eager innovators work on a personal project that they then could share with the rest of the office. This month's results were pretty impressive. Check out what some of these talented web and mobile app developers and designers worked on:

Kenneth Nicholson, Front End Developer worked with students from Durham's first code school to help them gain more hands-on, real-world experience. Students are currently studying front-end engineering and Ruby on Rails.

Helen Vasconcelos, iOS Developer

Worked with fellow developers on CRNT, an application designed to give surf conditions in specific spots. A surfer takes his cues from the environment surrounding him – wave height, tide, and water and air temperatures are all factors that can make or break a day riding waves. CRNT displays all of this information within a sleek iOS and Android app that helps surfers determine the current conditions of their favorite surf breaks.

"I'm specifically working on the server back-end of the application and also the iOS side of things," she said. "The back-end involved grabbing data from multiple sources and providing it to the application. Data like wave height, tide graph, wind speed, direction and so forth. The iOS application side involves user interaction and user experience." See more on CRNT's development on Dribble.

Austin Lanier, Android Developer also worked on the CRNT Android application."I'm doing the Android version of the CRNT app. The general concept is pretty simple -- we're displaying weather/surf conditions relevant to users of the application. We're trying to approach it in a new, unique way by presenting the data through cool animations, design, and an intuitive user experience."


Lindsay Nauman, Rails Developer worked on creating comparison tools for Ruby Gems. A Gem is a Ruby packaged application or library that extends or modifies the functionality of an application. The tool she used to compare Gems is the Benchmark Library from The Ruby Toolbox.


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Smashing Boxes is a creative technology lab that partners with clients, taking an integrated approach to solving complex business problems. We fuse strategy, design, and engineering with a steady dose of entrepreneurial acumen and just the right amount of disruptive zeal. Simply put, no matter what we do, we strive to do it boldly. Let's talk today!

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