Alistair Hamilton, FIDSA
With an over 30-year history of IDSA membership and design leadership at world-renowned technology companies, including Motorola, Microsoft, Blackberry, and now Amazon, Alistair Hamilton, FIDSA, has contributed essential research, passion, and knowledge to the profession and the Society that merits Fellowship. He has served as Director at Large on IDSA’s Board of Directors from 2009 to 2012, Executive Editor of INNOVATION from 2010 to 2012, and IDEA 2008 Jury Chair, among other positions in the organization. Hamilton has contributed expert content to IDSA events, publications, and programming, and over the years has ensured the professional dialogue remains up to date and relevant to the changing technology landscape.
Hamilton began his career at NCR Corporation, where he went on to lead an integrated team of industrial, environmental, and interaction designers supporting NCR’s retail, financial, and computing business units. Developing the first self-service checkout in 1998, Hamilton founded the Design Center’s Interaction Design practice and grew this team into an innovative professional services organization integrating research, design, and human-factors specialists.
As vice president of innovation and design at Symbol Technologies from 1998 to 2007, Hamilton created a portfolio of integrated products and design processes and was deeply involved in company strategy and product development. This approach attracted global recognition and billions of dollars in revenue, ultimately driving Motorola to acquire the company.
In a presentation at Microsoft’s Interactive Edges conference, Hamilton shared a schematic device, UI, and networked databases that preceded the notion of IoT or cloud computing by more than a decade. This insight was integral to his position as partner and creative director at Microsoft. From 2007 to 2009, he led the research and design development of the Windows Phone 7 and developed the chassis strategy that enabled devices to scale through OEM without compromising performance and quality. At Blackberry, he led integrated ID & UX experience planning and research for the Blackberry 10 devices portfolio, including the first-all touch Blackberry with a breakthrough on-screen gesture-based keyboard, and the first hybrid touch keyboard on the Blackberry Passport.
Since joining Amazon in 2013, Hamilton has held director of design roles overseeing Kindle, Amazon Prime Video, and now the physical stores. He built and led the design teams responsible for developing the end-to-end CX and brand personality of Amazon Fresh Stores, including the development of the Dash Cart, a smart shopping cart that recognizes items as you shop and skips the checkout line. Today he leads UX, ID, and design research across Amazon’s physical stores.
“Alistair was drawn to Amazon based on the potential of using more data in the design process to further raise the bar on design’s impact to the business,” writes Steve Kaneko, FIDSA. “In his time there, he has built the team that invented an industry-ﬁrst mechanism for connecting the dots between customer impact and the bottom line. This required leading progressive efforts to integrate both business factors and human factors to achieve customer outcomes.” The integrated business and design approach has become widely used across Amazon.
Hamilton is also known for openly sharing his knowledge, giving back to the design community since the beginning. “I know Alistair from his time in Ohio at NCR and his service to the local IDSA community in Ohio,” writes James C. Kaufman, FIDSA. “His advice to us was invaluable in formulating the direction in our graduate design program.”
“Alistair Hamilton has significantly expanded and deepened the body of knowledge available to industrial design, funding and contributing to IDSA programs such as the DesignAbouts and INNOVATION,” writes Kristina Goodrich, former executive director of IDSA, in reference to the groundbreaking IDSA DesignAbout conferences in the early 2000s and the INNOVATION Index, a complete digital directory of the journal for membership and with archives preserved for the public. Additionally, “as a member of the IDSA Corporate Design Consortium, he shared his management methodologies and challenges openly with his peers, helping position industrial design as a vital contributor to corporate success.”
“Alistair has represented our profession with integrity and humility, and has been a mentor and coach for so many designers and human factors professionals creating the many consumer and enterprise-grade products in use today,” writes Kaneko. “I believe Alistair represents the professional expertise, proven IDSA commitment, and top-notch personal character deserving of being called a Fellow of IDSA.”