Little "i" Innovation: Why Small Ideas Matter as much as Big Ones

I was in Portland last week to speak at DMI’s Design/Management Thinking Conference — Balancing Extremes: Tensions in Design. The two-day event, at the stunning Gerding Theatre, offered focused presentations, discussions, and interactive sessions with leading business and design leaders.

The program kicked off with John Hoke and Angela Snow, Nike’s VP of Global Design and Global Director of Creative Operations, who spoke about how tension fuels Nike’s breakthrough design innovations. Their big, bold keynote was peppered with high-energy videos featuring cutting-edge products and triumphant sports moments.

I immediately followed with my own session, Little “I” Innovation, in which I proposed that committing to incremental improvements and pivoting on adjacent innovations are just as critical to business success as the big breakthrough ideas. It was a fitting juxtaposition. I was however compelled to employ the multi-talented Justin Timberlake to help me make my point.

Eyeo Festival 2012 - Conference Report

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference, now in its second year, bills itself as the intersection of art, interaction and information.

While my role at Odopod is that of a developer, this is not a developer's conference. It's not about libraries, frameworks or programming languages. Here, data is king. I know that the term has many meanings and may be a little vague or scary to some people. That's what makes Eyeo such a unique event. This is a conference exploring how data of all kinds can inspire design and how design, in turn, can shape data and give it meaning. It can be personal data, it can be government data, it can be weather data, it can be random data - it can be anything! Founded on this unique premise, Eyeo has quickly become the event of the year for people who make their living by or are interested in data visualization. There were also talks that touched on topics including art, design, creative coding, and human-computer interaction.

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PyCon 2012

Python is one of the main programming languages that we use at Odopod to build back-end systems for our web apps and websites. So I recently was really excited to attend Pycon, the annual Python conference. And I had a blast.

Photo credit: Orion Auld

This year’s Pycon was the largest yet. There were 2,500 attendees (twice as many as last year), 133 official sponsors and 127 talks divided in 5 parallel tracks. The fact that the conference took place in Santa Clara, right in the middle of the Silicon Valley, probably was a determining factor for the exceptionally large attendance, yet still these numbers undeniably demonstrate the increasing popularity of Python in the tech world.

It was impossible to physically attend all the talks that I was interested in. Fortunately all were video-recorded and published online so I could catch up later after the conference. In this post I’m going to present a short recap of the most notables things that I’ve learned and enjoyed.

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Planning-ness 2012: Connected Personal Objects

Last week, David Bliss and I presented at the 2012 Planning-ness Conference.

For those that haven’t had a chance to attend, Planning-ness is described as an "un-conference" for creative thinkers who want to get their hands dirty. Each session is half teach and half workshop where participants put the presented ideas into action. This year a two-day, two-track event was hosted at the Annenberg Community Beach House in sunny Santa Monica.

In our session, we mapped the ever expanding Internet of Things landscape, broke down the “anatomy” of connected objects, and described how personal connected objects have the ability to encourage new behaviors, even increase human potential.

After which we gave the following assignment: Think of a personal object. Imagine how you might embed sensors, log interesting data and connect it to the Internet for analysis. Consider what insights this new information would bring to light and what behaviors, or ideas those could inspire.

All of the participants embraced the challenge with passion and enthusiasm — generating ideas that sparked imagination, laughter and smart thinking for where the Internet of Things may go.

The Awwwards gets to know Jason Hardy and you can too.

Our friends at the Awwwards asked some questions to Jason Hardy, one of the Creative Directors here at Odopod. He's on the panel of judges this year, so treat him right. Here's the interview, republished in full, for your viewing pleasure.


Odopod is one of the best and most awarded agencies around, It’s based in San Francisco and is formed by top designers, developers, strategists and in general very inventive people. They’re responsible for works like: IWC, Sony Tablet S and many more amazing works. We’ve had the pleasure of talking to their creative director, Jason Hardy.

Awwwards: Please tell us a little bit about yourself: who are you, where do you come from and where are you going?

JH: My name is Jason Hardy, I am a Creative Director at Odopod in San Francisco. I originally come from Nebraska. I’m not really sure where I’m going, probably to get a sandwich or some coffee.

Awww: What did you do before becoming a designer / developer?

JH: I went to school for Journalism and intended to be a writer. When I graduated there were no writing jobs where I lived (surprise!) so I took a basic design job instead. I had always been interested in design, mostly through skateboard magazines and album art, the typical influences, but never really thought of it as an option for making a living. Once I went down that path, I became pretty driven to learn as much as I could and never really looked back.

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Upcoming events featuring talks and panels from the Odopod crew

We've got a busy next few months, packed with projects launching, a growing studio space, and some amazing new clients coming on board. In the midst of all that good stuff, we're also sending some Odopod thought leaders out into the world to participate in some talks and some panels in some amazing places. Come meet us!

April 30 - May 1, San Francisco

Join Albert Poon, Odopod's Director of Interaction Design in his talk, Welcome to the Post-PC Era.

About this talk: The age of desktop being the primary platform for digital experiences is over. Yes, there are hundreds of millions of traditional PCs with web browsers. They will not disappear. But even the most cursory look at the sales numbers should make it clear that the era of the big screen-keyboard-mouse digital experience is waning.

May 17 - 18, Santa Monica

Join Guthrie Dolin, Director of Brand and Strategy and David Bliss, Founder and Executive Technical Director in Connected Personal Objects: Getting Intimate with the Internet of Things.

About this talk: The Internet of Things is a vast and rapidly expanding landscape that encompasses complex infrastructural systems to the everyday objects found in our homes and even on our person. At its core is a network of uniquely identifiable “things” with the ability to sense their environment then communicate with one another and us. In our presentation we will breakdown the key attributes and technologies that define these connected “things” as well as demonstrate how some of the most progressive connected personal objects may be shaping our future.

May 22 - 25, Montreal

Join Odopod Founder and Executive Creative Director, Tim Barber in The Eureka! Moment, a discussion lead by Dr. Rex Jung, assistant research professor in the department of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico who is exploring the structural and biochemical correlates of intelligence, creativity and positive affect.

DMI Design/Management Thinking 24
June 19-20, Portland

Guthrie Dolin will be doing a talk on Little "i" Innovation: The Practice of Continual Incremental Improvement

About this talk: When it comes to design-led innovation, we love the big idea—those breakthrough inventions that signal a disruptive change. But these big ideas are rarely the result of a single moment of genius. Instead, it comes from the culmination of smaller ideas, developed over time, from the minds of many. The ideas that really stick in our fast-paced digital world are the ones that “live in beta”—embracing a culture of learning, adapting and improving every day. In Little “i” Innovation, we will explore how the process of continual, incremental improvement has been used to develop some of the world’s most innovative and dominant consumer brands.

If you're headed to any of these events, please be sure to join us or just stop by and say hello. We'd love to meet you!

16th Annual Webbys Honor EA and IWC

We're extremely pleased to announced that IWC and EA have been recognized in the 16th Annual Webby Awards! IWC has been named as an official honoree, while EA has been nominated in the Games-Related category. Love the site? Help us win by voting for EA in the People's Voice Awards. Thanks!

Working with Kinect for Windows and Flash

Over the past twelve months, Odopod has worked with a few Kinect prototypes using open source drivers in conjunction with Processing and Flash.

The most robust examples have leveraged the full body (aka skeleton) tracking provided by the OpenNI and Prime Sense NITE libraries. Unfortunately, this level of tracking requires people to pose like they're about to get a pat down from airport security. Even if you just want to track a single hand, it requires a socially awkward wave to the camera.

In February, Microsoft released the Windows version of the Kinect hardware as well as its Kinect for Windows SDK and license. The hardware itself is only nominally different, supporting experiences that are closer than possible with the XBOX hardware. The software, however enables full skeleton tracking without the need to strike any particular pose. In fact the recognition is instantaneous.

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An Introduction to Static Website Generators

If you're familiar with working on large template driven CMS websites, you might occasionally find yourself looking for some light weight alternatives. Perhaps you have a project that doesn't have budget for backend development but which would benefit from a powerful design template system. Or maybe you have the technical requirement for your site to use static HTML files instead of a dynamic server application. Or for whatever reason you decide you just don't need a web-based CMS admin tool.

Meet the static website generator. This is a set of tools that can compile and publish a fully static website from templates and content files. When you want to make an update, you change the content in a series of simple text files, run a publish script that generates a new version of the full site, and upload the new files to your server.

There's a whole slew of these available for various coding environments and languages. We've reviewed and worked with a few of the ruby-based ones (namely Jekyll & Bonsai). We used Jekyll for the Google for Veterans and Families project as a way to easily apply a few consistent design templates to 50 pages of content for a quick turn around. I also really enjoyed working with Bonsai on my personal site to create a very flexible page hierarchy and navigation that can be altered just by re-arranging or re-naming folders. Jekyll has a lot of community support and is intended to be more of a blogging platform than a free-form page-based website.

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A Multi-Device Web Strategy

By now, I expect you know that the number of people using smart-phones, tablets and other devices to access the web is increasing and is expected to one day surpass the number of people using laptop and desktop computers to get online.

To address this shift away from desktop dominance, a contemporary web strategy must:

  1. provide universal access for each piece of content
  2. optimize layouts for a variety of screen sizes
  3. support touch gestures in addition to mouse and keyboard interactions
  4. deliver optimized content for devices with limited resources
  5. fully optimize key experiences for the specific contexts of use

Contemporary web development techniques make it possible to deliver on these points with a single front-end code base that adjusts to the capabilities of devices rather than building multiple sites different categories of devices (e.g. Mobile and Desktop). A single site is more cost effective to build and maintain and is also more flexible, able to accommodate new devices that don't fall cleanly into existing categories.

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Odopod is now Nurun

We're still in San Francisco, still under the same leadership, still doing great work (here are some case studies). But now we're a lot larger. We've joined a host of Nurun offices around the globe, all part of Publicis Worldwide.

Our focus remains on helping clients succeed in a connected world with products and services that transform the consumer experience.

We continue to work with forward-thinking, longstanding clients including Tesla, Google, Sony and Audemars Piguet. More recently, we've established new relationships with Dolby, the San Francisco 49ers, GoPro, and Blu Homes.

We welcome the opportunity to work with you too.

Tim, Dave, & JT

The best way to reach us

For new business, contact Allison McCarthy

For general inquiries, contact us at

For more about Nurun, visit