#3 Digital Accessories Designer: Savannah Lyn Niles

Savannah Lyn Niles is a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab.

What are you creating?

Media-responsive objects and wearables: objects that connect us to the information and media we care about, integrated into our environments and onto our bodies in calm, meaningful ways.

How do you want to change the world?

By designing objects and interfaces that quietly imbue our environments and our peripheries with high-bandwidth, low-cognitive load information streams

What makes you think you’re onto something?

Digital information is already ubiquitous: most people I know— myself included— don't go a waking minute without looking at a back-lit screen. So many pixelated surfaces in my environment are constantly vying for our attention. But the future doesn’t have to look like Times Square everywhere. Technology can be quiet, connecting us to and enriching real contexts and environments, rather than distracting us from them.

How do you push through when things get tough?

When I don’t know where to begin on a problem, I dread even getting started. I’m the queen of "procrastiworking” (“I’ll reorganize Evernote!” “I’ll refactor code that works fine!” etc.). So to avoid that trap, I break things down into tasks I know I can complete. Telling myself “just do 30 minutes of work, and then take a break” often leads to 90 minutes of work, and reduces the problem space down to subsets I then feel I can tackle. 

What quality do you most like in a startup?

Rapid prototyping and iteration of ideas. Demo or die. 

What quality do you most despise in a startup?

Lack of diversity, and a lack of initiative to seek out talent from under-represented groups in technology.

What talent would you like to have?

I’d like to learn how to cook better!

If your startup/work were a movie which would it be?

My Neighbor Totoro. I imagine a world where technology occupies our homes like quiet, friendly spirits.