Web-enabling your smoke breaks

If you’re going to freeze your butt off smoking in the middle of winter you might was well have company while you’re out there. [Zach's] company wanted to crunch some data about smoking breaks and worker productivity. Instead of just meeting the bland data collection needs he decided to add functionality.

He took time to explain the different parts of the system. Above you can see the web interface that lets you know which of your coworkers are smoking right now. It also lets you click to check in and out from your breaks. After this was up and running he found that often the smokers forgot to ‘clock out’ before a break. As a backup system he build a physical interface on the way out of the office. Each smoker has their own button with a corresponding LED. If the light’s on you’re having a break and when it’s off you’re working. This controller is Arduino based and uses a Perl script to monitor the input and sync both that physical display and the web interface. [Zach] posted a few pictures if you want to take a look at the rest of the system.


  1. zing says:

    Can I get a “not smoking but I pretend to so I can slack every two hours” button?

  2. fred says:

    Two hours? I’m out there every 30 minutes.

  3. Chris says:

    Perhaps an RFID reader on the door?

  4. exengineer says:

    I need to start smoking, the last break I had at work was when I trained my H-1B replacement before the layoff.

    Now I’m back training another guy because the first was deported for smoking (not tobacco) at least it’s a job for the next two weeks.

    My next job I’m telling them I’m a smoker of coarse it’s liable to be the “I have an engineering degree, would you like fries with that?” kind of job, but it beats starving.

  5. concino says:

    You can track people easily if you have an access control system. So company with a proper access control has no problems tracking people. Cameras help too of course.

    If they installed a system like this in my work place, I’d mess up the experiment by pressing random buttons even though I don’t smoke. :)

  6. therian says:

    fuck combustion vaporize its 2011 stop fucking you internals and pay 10X for dry leafs in paper box

  7. therian says:

    seriously you can get back all enjoyments of “smoking” without combustion, I enjoy weed on the train , in the bus and in class and no one have any idea what Im doing, vaporizing is that stealthy

  8. EMG says:

    Everybody is always jealous of the smokers because they get extra ‘breaks’, but just imagine that your break is the fact that you will probably live 10 years longer.

  9. mcgrgr says:

    That is 10 more years of less breaks… i’ll take my smoke or two when i get the chance.. and not worry about working another 10 years…

  10. crashsuit says:

    Hey great! Makes smoking fun again. Look, all your friends are out there enjoying a nice cool smoke and laughing it up!


  11. axllaruse says:

    I hope any record about how is smoking goes to the Health Care companies.

    We don’t wish to give them excuses to charge us more or denied services due information they have about us.

  12. axllaruse says:

    I apologize, I mean: who is smoking not how is smoking

  13. Tomasito says:


    Quitted in two days with the audiobook.

    It is like magic.

  14. toodles says:

    Wow, what an awesome way to kill workplace morale.

    Whoever volunteered for this project is probably butt-hurt that a nicotine junkie stole his lunch.

  15. adam says:

    therian……no cbd’s with vaporizing

  16. syale says:

    I worked for a guy once, who during the interview process would ask the interview candidate if they wanted to stop for a cup of tea and of course if they fancied a smoke. Those who took the smoke break were never hired as loss of productivity for more thn 2 hours a day was not what he wanted.
    Ethical: No
    Practical: Yes
    Cleaner smelling office: Yes
    Less chance of walking through the wall of smoke when entering the office: Yes

    Smokers stink.

  17. Dubmuffin says:


    I’m willing to bet your Facebook status updates nuke at LEAST that much time every day…


  18. concino says:

    In California smokers cannot smoke within 30 feets of the building entrance. My company created this little areas outside of the building for them to smoke. One should have such determination to go through all this crap just to get a smoke. Not to mention the cancer risk.

  19. syale says:


    I cannot get to facebook from my work pc. I use facebook once a day to connect with my kids (in a different country) on the bus on my way home. I :-) am not tethered to facebook nor any other social networking entity. The last time my status changed was when I installed a new rom on the phone and it automatically updated my status :-(

    I feel sad for todays youth that they would rather text or facebook than have a conversation with each other…

  20. Zack says:

    Proud to see that my first “hack” made it on my favorite hack blog.

    You all should be happy to know that we have collected the most incomplete set of smoking data one might be able to.

    Here’s to technology!

  21. therian says:

    Also no red eyes or melting body , and in fact there is cbd it is in range of 220C well before 240C (earliest combustion point). Smaller proportion of it create head high instead of body high so you have all the emery to move around and feel great instead of falling asleep

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