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Human-Machine Interaction

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Human-Machine Interaction (HMI) is concerned with the way humans interact with technology. It deals with how humans work with computers and how computer systems can be designed to best facilitate the users in achieving their goals. There is a gap to be bridged, with computer technology on the one side, and the human operator on the other side. The first of what can be called the modern computers, such as the required users to program the computer by connecting cables on a patch board. Later, a less cumbersome UI was possible in the shape of punch tapes or cards that were used as in- and output.

The development of computer screens with the possibility of displaying text opened the way for more diversity in the UI, allowing the user to interact with the computer using a command driven or menu driven interface. It has been shown that HMI theories are not yet fully established and that the discipline is highly fragmented making it difficult to characterize a single method of approach or even a set of accepted principles. The lack of agreement between authorities in this field suggests that the approach must be carefully tailored to the specific needs of the environment to which they are applicable. This section has briefly considered the history of HMI which showed how usability has become the central feature of virtually all HMI activities from the 1960’s onwards. The structure of HMI has been reviewed to show how it encompasses a number of disciplines. The approach to HMI analysis has evolved into the methodology of Lindgaard et al which focuses on users’ needs [5].

This is an approach which is commonly adopted and it will be addressed in more detail when the methodology of this project is considered. Because of the fragmentation of HMI principles it was felt necessary at this stage to perform a frequency analysis of HMI authors and their chosen principles. This was done on the basis of the key features that each author listed as being the most important. The purpose of this was to produce a set of principles which would be held to be the most accepted. It was found that eight rules have been established by this analysis.

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