Ame Elliott

User experience design to re-imagine privacy, security, transparency, and ethics.

Design can change the world.


Senior leader with twenty years experience in Human-Centered Design for technology development. Currently Design Director at Simply Secure, a Most Innovative Company in Design according to Fast Company.  Eight years at IDEO as a senior project leader and design research community lead. Previously a research scientist at PARC and Ricoh. Writer, speaker, facilitator, and educator. Available for freelance projects.



Ph.D. in Design Theory and Methods, Dept. of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, 2002.
Dissertation: Computational Support for Sketching and Image Browsing During the Early Phase of Architectural Design. Areas of study: Human-Computer Interaction, Information Science, and Architecture.

Bachelor of Environmental Design, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1993.
Senior Thesis: Neighborhood GIS: Integrating Geographic Information Systems and Multi-Media to Support Participatory Design. Areas of study: Design studies, design computing.



Design Director, Simply Secure, San Francisco, CA and Berlin, Germany (2015 – present).
Using a Human-Centered Design approach to the challenges of security. Facilitating research and development by multi-disciplinary teams to make ubiquitous privacy and security a reality. 

Senior Project Leader. IDEO, San Francisco, CA (2011 – 2015).
Directed teams to design interactive experiences from initial need-finding through prototyping and implementation. Sample clients: Acer, AT&T, Ericsson, Fuji-Xerox, Gannett, HP, and Samsung. Key project: The Innovator’s Accelerator online innovation course.

Design Research Community Lead. IDEO, San Francisco, CA (2010 – 2015).
Coaching, education, and professional development to ensure cutting edge methods and outstanding quality research practices among the 30 design researchers across two California locations.

Project Leader. IDEO, Palo Alto, CA (2008 – 2011).
Focus: design and technology strategy, entrepreneurship. Key projects: The Bold Italic and Ripple Effect.

Senior Human Factors Specialist. IDEO, Palo Alto, CA (2007 – 2008).
Focus: design and technology strategy.

Research Scientist. PARC: Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, CA (2004 – 2007).  
Design ethnographer, Computing Science Laboratory. Focus: ubiquitous computing applications. 

Research Scientist. Ricoh Innovations, Menlo Park, CA (2001 – 2004).  
Shared Media Group. Focus: hybrid physical-digital interactions.

Project Director. University of California, Berkeley School of Information (2000). 
Developed a classification scheme to describe e-businesses for use by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Interaction Designer. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (1999).  
Prototyped a knowledge management extension to the Building Design Advisor energy efficiency software. 

Multimedia Producer. National Endowment for the Arts/Univ. of California, Berkeley (1996 – 1998). 
Produced digital video of medieval Cairo’s changing urban form and programmed interactive courseware. 

Design Computing Lab Manager. University of Colorado, Boulder (1995).
Sundance Lab for Advanced Computing, College of Environmental Design.

Lecturer and Staff Researcher. University of Colorado, Boulder (1994).
College of Environmental Design. Programmed and taught user interfaces for mapping.



• U.S. Patent 8452153, “Associating pre-generated barcodes with temporal events.” Issued May 28, 2013.

• U.S. Patent 7739583, “Multimedia Document Sharing Method and Apparatus.” Issued June 15, 2010.

• U.S. Patent 7672864,  "Generating and displaying level-of-interest values." Issued March 2, 2010.

• U.S. Patent 7703002  "Method and Apparatus for Composing Multimedia Documents." Issued March 20, 2010.

• U.S. Patent 7546528, “Stamp Sheets.” Issued June 9, 2009.

• U.S. Patent 7344078, "Device for scanning and printing barcodes." Issued March 18, 2008.

• U.S. Patent 7313340, “Paper control of document processing.” Issued December 25, 2007.



Elliott, A. and Sinclair Brody, S. (2016). "Design Implications of Lived Surveillance in New York," in CHI '16 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing SystemsPDF.

Churchill, E., Dray, S., Elliott, A., Larvie, P., and Siegel, D. (2010).  “Addressing Challenges in Doing International Field Research,” in CHI '10 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp 3127-3130. 

Churchill, E. and Elliott, A. (2009). “Flexibility and the Curatorial Eye: Why and How Well-Documented Ethnographically Inspired Fieldwork Sustains Value Over Time,” EPIC 2009 (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry, Chicago, IL) pp 72-80.

Smetters, D., Dalal, B., Nelson, L., Good, N., and Elliott, A. (2008). “Ad-Hoc Guesting: When Exceptions Are the Rule,” in ;login: The USENIX Magazine, 33 (4), pp 34-40.

Newman, M., Elliott, A., and Smith, T. (2008). “Providing an Integrated User Experience of Networked Media, Devices, and Services Through End-User Composition,” in PERVASIVE 2008, pp 213-227.

Schiano, D., Elliott, A., and Bellotti, V. (2007).  “Tokyo Youth at Leisure: Online Support of Leisure Outings,” chapter in Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology, pp 361-372.

Gugerty, L., Billman, D., Pirolli, P., and Elliott, A. (2007). “An Exploratory Study of the Effect of Domain Knowledge on Internet Search Behavior: The Case of Diabetes, in Proceedings of the 51st Annual Meeting of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society.

Elliott, A., Mainwaring, S., Woodruff, A., and Sengers, P. (2007). “Nurturing Technologies in the Domestic Environment,” in IEEE Pervasive, April-June, pp 110-111. 

Schiano, D., Elliott, A., and Bellotti, V.  (2007). “A Look at Tokyo Youth at Leisure: Towards the Design of New Media to Support Leisure Outings,” in Journal of Computer Support of Collaborative Work, pp 45-73.

Elliott, A. and Dalal, B. (2006).  “Design for Healthy Living: Mobility and the Disruption of Daily Healthcare Routines,” in EPIC 2006 (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry, Portland, OR), pp 30-39.

Schiano, D., Elliott, A., and Bellotti, V. (2006). “Between Cram School and Career in Tokyo,” in EPIC 2006  (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry, Portland, OR), pp 150-154.

Schiano, D., Elliott, A., and Bellotti, V. (2006). “Tokyo Youth at Leisure: Towards the Design of New Media to Support Leisure Planning and Practice,” in Extended Abstracts of CHI 2006.

Elliott, A. (2005). “Physical Artifacts for Promoting Bilingual Collaborative Design” in EPIC 2005 (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry, Redmond WA), pp 158-164.

Elliott, A. and Hearst, M. A. (2002). “A Comparison of the Affordances of a Digital Desk and Tablet for Architectural Image Tasks,” in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Vol. 56(2), pp 173-197.

Hearst, M., Elliott, A., English, J., Sinha, R., Swearingen, K., and Yee, K.-P.  (2002). “Finding the Flow in Web Site Search,” in Communications of the ACM, 45 (9), pp 43-49.

Elliott, A. (2002). Computational Support for Sketching and Image Browsing During the Early Phase of Architectural Design, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.

Elliott, A. (2001). “Flamenco Image Browser: Using Metadata to Improve Image Search During Architectural Design,” in Extended Abstracts of CHI 2001

Elliott, A. and Hearst, M. A. (2000). “How Large Should a Digital Desk Be? Qualitative Results of a Comparative Study,” in Extended Abstracts of CHI 2000.

Chastain, T. and Elliott, A. (1998). “Cultivating Design Competence: Online Support for the Beginning Design Studio,” in Proceedings of ACADIA ‘98 (Association of Computer Aided Design in Architecture)

Gross, M. D., Parker, L. and Elliott, A. (1997).  “MUD: Exploring Tradeoffs in Urban Design,” in CAAD Futures'97, R. Junge (ed.), Dortrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

AlSayyad, N., Elliott, A. and Kalay, Y. E. (1996).  "Narrative Models: A Database Approach to Modeling Medieval Cairo," in Proceedings of ACADIA ’96 (Association of Computer AidedDesign in Architecture).



• Judge, Innovation By Design Awards, Fast Company Design, 2017.

• Track lead for the Internet Freedom Festival, 2016.

• Mentoring entrepreneurs and advising startups: Peerlyst, Lean Startup, Code for America, and 


Professional Organizations
• Senior Member of the Association for Computing Machinery

• Editorial board interactions magazine 2008 – 2010.

• Associate Chair for Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) 2007 and 2008 Conference.

• Reviewer for CHI conference 2004-2010 (papers, short papers, experience reports, design competition).

• Reviewer for Computer-Supported Cooperative Work Conference (papers, short papers) 2004-2009.

• Reviewer for Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) 2007-2009.

• Lead workshop for Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) 2007.

• Organized workshop on “Nurturing Technology in the Home” at UbiComp 2006 Conference.


Press and Awards:

Simply Secure

Internet Health Report 2018,” Mozilla, April 10, 2018.

"Simply Secure is a 2018 Most Innovative Company in Design," February 20, 2018.

Our Apathy to Privacy Will Destroy Us. Design Can Help.” Fast Company Design, January 11, 2018

10 New Principles of Good Design,” Fast Company Design, January 3, 2018.

"The Future of the Internet of Things Depends on This,", October 14, 2017.

What Comes After User Friendly Design?Fast Company Design, September 18, 2017.

"A Simple Design Flaw Makes It Astoundingly Easy To Hack Siri And Alexa," Fast Company Design, September 16, 2017.

"Wie Design zum Datenschutz beitragen kann: Ein Interview mit Ame Elliott," O'Reilly Blog, September 14, 2017.

"Our Apathy Towards Privacy Will Destroy Us. Designers Can Help," Fast Company Design, January 11. 2017

Art, Design, and the Future of Privacy,DIS Magazine September 9, 2015.


The Innovator’s Accelerator:

Apollo to Offer Course in Business Innovation,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2013.

Lessons from U of P's Innovator's Accelerator Online Course,” Inside Higher Ed, February 11, 2013.


The Bold Italic:

AIGA 365 Design Effectiveness winner, Digital, 2011.

IDEA Finalist, Interactive Product Experience, 2011.

SF Weekly's Best Of, Webzine, 2011.

Webby Honoree, 2010.


Ripple Effect:

Announcing Addressing Poverty Through Human-Centered Design,” Core77, March 7, 2011. 

"Getting Water to the World's Poorest," Forbes, September 11, 2009.



Creating training materials, giving lecturers, leading workshops, and guiding people through field visits to teach user-centered design methods. Topics include: population sampling, selecting appropriate methods (quantitative and qualitative), data collection, synthesis, and tips for conducting fieldwork with end-users.

Simply Secure (2015 - present).
Supervising our academic fellows and mentoring our partner organizations in design and research methods.

IDEO (2007 – 2015).
Participants include 200+ executives from Acer, AT&T, Ericsson, Fuji-Xerox, HP, Life Technologies, Logitech, Gannett, Samsung, Visa, and Wells Fargo. 

PARC (2004 – 2007).
Participants included researchers and engineers from Dai Nippon Printing and Samsung.

Ricoh (2002-2004).
Participants included members of research staff, strategic planning, and business units.



Visiting Faculty, People-Centered Design (February 2015).
Two-week Masters program course, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design; with Nina Christofferson.

Mentor, CS198: Advanced HCI-Research Studio (2000).
University of California, Berkeley; with James Landay, Scott Klemmer, and Francis Li.

Graduate Student Instructor, SIMS 202: Introduction to Organization and Retrieval (1999).
University of California, Berkeley; with Marti Hearst and Ray Larson. 

Graduate Student Instructor, IDS 110: Introduction to Programming for Non-Majors (1998).
University of California, Berkeley; with Larry Lagerstrom.

Lecturer, ENVD 2050: Computers in Planning (1998). 
University of Colorado, Boulder.

Lecturer, ENVD 2050: Computers in Planning (1994).
University of Colorado, Boulder.