Google Taps the Crowd for Novel Browser Extensions

Published Jun-16-15

Internet behemoth Google dives into the knowledgeable crowd for creative and practical extensions to its Chrome browser.

Google, United States

The Story:

Google Taps the Crowd for Novel Browser Extensions Time and again crowdsourcing has been used to solve problems, generate bold new thinking and deliver novel products. Part of its success comes from the diverse backgrounds of solvers, who are sometimes in competition with each to deliver superior solutions. For solution seekers the benefits are obvious, and can include uncovering an approach (including an existing one) that meets their needs and that they would otherwise not have thought of.

Solvers too, receive a host of benefits. They can include financial rewards, the intellectual rigor of coming up with something novel, exposure to a wider audience, a boost to the CV and in some cases, the opportunity to work with other smart brains.

Google Seeks New Chrome Extensions

As an internet pioneer and powerhouse, it is perhaps not so surprising that Google would use the web to enlist the crowd to help it innovate. When the multinational technology company was wondering about some new extensions to its Chrome browser, it turned to the crowd via ChallengePost. The website is a community of hackers which regularly hosts hackathons and online challenges.

Although happy with its browser and the ease by which it can be used, Google thought that smart brains from across the world could make it even better.

To enter the crowdsourcing initiative, participants had to be aged 13 years and over and no teams were allowed. This was for solo innovators only. Submissions were voted on by the ChallengePost community and assessed by a panel of judges, according to three key criteria: 1) does it work? 2) creativity 3) impact on the Chrome browsing experience.

The submission field was highly competitive and saw several novel extensions, with prizes being awarded to six winners. Among them were:

• Webotate - an extension that lets users annotate webpages in any way they like, such as
drawing circles around items or even doodles! The inspiration came from how people annotate
the books they are reading. Annotations can be saved, whole or parts can be erased and the
notations can be made in a choice of colors.

• EzNav - an easy way to search for web pages in your browsing history and open tabs.

• Challenge Hut - for those who like to take part in online challenges, this extension is a handy
popup to see what online programming challenges are taking place on various platforms. The
popup has three tabs - active, upcoming and archived.

• CalEvent - an extension to easily add events to Google Calendar.

For their creative endeavors and fresh thinking, the winners were awarded a number of prizes, including subscriptions to interactive learning platforms.

Global Expertise on Tap

As with many other open innovation contests and initiatives, the search for new Chrome extensions demonstrated that diverse expertise is available in large quantities, just waiting to be tapped.

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