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In the
industrial design Industrial design is a process of design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specification in the form of a prototype ...

industrial design
field of
human–computer interaction Human–computer interaction (HCI) studies the design and use of computer technology, focused on the interfaces between people ( users) and computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or lo ...
, a user interface (UI) is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. The goal of this interaction is to allow effective operation and control of the machine from the human end, while the machine simultaneously feeds back information that aids the operators'
decision-making In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive process resulting in the selection of a belief or a course of action among several possible alternative options, it could be ...
process. Examples of this broad concept of user interfaces include the interactive aspects of computer
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems like macOS macOS (; previously Mac OS X and later ...

operating system
s, hand
tools A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use tool use by animals, simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone tools dates back Paleolithic, hund ...

tools
,
heavy machinery Heavy equipment or heavy machinery refers to heavy-duty vehicles, specially designed for executing construction Construction is a general term meaning the art and science to form Physical object, objects, systems, or organizations,"Constr ...
operator controls, and
process A process is a series or set of activities that interact to produce a result; it may occur once-only or be recurrent or periodic. Things called a process include: Business and management *Business process A business process, business method or ...
controls. The design considerations applicable when creating user interfaces are related to, or involve such disciplines as,
ergonomics Human factors and ergonomics (commonly referred to as human factors) is the application of psychological and physiological principles to the engineering and design of products, processes, and systems. The goal of human factors is to reduce human e ...
and
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...

psychology
. Generally, the goal of
user interface design User interface (UI) design or user interface engineering is the design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specificati ...
is to produce a user interface which makes it easy, efficient, and enjoyable (user-friendly) to operate a machine in the way which produces the desired result (i.e. maximum
usability Usability can be described as the capacity of a system to provide a condition for its users to perform the tasks safely, effectively, and efficiently while enjoying the experience. In software engineering Software engineering is the systematic ...

usability
). This generally means that the operator needs to provide minimal input to achieve the desired output, and also that the machine minimizes undesired outputs to the user. User interfaces are composed of one or more layers, including a human–machine interface (HMI) that interfaces machines with physical input hardware such as keyboards, mice, or game pads, and output hardware such as
computer monitor A computer monitor is an output device that displays information in pictorial or text form. A monitor usually comprises a , , a casing, and a . The in modern monitors is typically a (TFT-LCD) with having replaced (CCFL) backlighting. Previou ...

computer monitor
s, speakers, and
printer Printers may be: Technology * Printer (publishing) In publishing, printers are both companies A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal ...
s. A device that implements an HMI is called a
human interface device A human interface device or HID is a type of computer device usually used by humans that takes input from humans and gives output to humans. The term "HID" most commonly refers to the USB-HID specification. The term was coined by Mike Van Fl ...
(HID). Other terms for human–machine interfaces are man–machine interface (MMI) and, when the machine in question is a computer, human–computer interface. Additional UI layers may interact with one or more human senses, including: tactile UI (
touch The somatosensory system is a part of the sensory nervous system The sensory nervous system is a part of the nervous system responsible for processing sense, sensory information. A sensory system consists of sensory neurons (including the sen ...
), visual UI (
sight Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biolo ...
), auditory UI (
sound In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...

sound
), olfactory UI ( smell), equilibrial UI (
balance Balance may refer to: Common meanings * Balance (ability) in biomechanics * Balance (accounting) * Balance or weighing scale Arts and entertainment Film * Balance (1983 film), ''Balance'' (1983 film), a Bulgarian film * Balance (1989 film), ''Bal ...
), and gustatory UI (
taste The gustatory system or sense of taste is the sensory system The sensory nervous system is a part of the nervous system responsible for processing sensory information. A sensory system consists of sensory neurons (including the sensory re ...

taste
). Composite user interfaces (CUIs) are UIs that interact with two or more senses. The most common CUI is a ''
graphical user interface The graphical user interface (GUI "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ) is a form of user interface that allows users User may refer to: Ancient Egyptian roles * User (ancient Egyptian official), an ancient Egyptian nomarch (gove ...
'' (GUI), which is composed of a tactile UI and a visual UI capable of displaying
graphics Graphics () are visual perception, visual images or designs on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, screen, paper, or stone, to inform, illustration, illustrate, or entertain. In contemporary usage, it includes a pictorial representation of data ...

graphics
. When sound is added to a GUI, it becomes a ''multimedia user interface'' (MUI). There are three broad categories of CUI: ''standard'', ''virtual'' and ''augmented''. Standard CUI use standard human interface devices like keyboards, mice, and computer monitors. When the CUI blocks out the real world to create a
virtual reality Virtual reality (VR) is a Simulation, simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment (particularly video games), education (such as medical or mil ...

virtual reality
, the CUI is virtual and uses a ''virtual reality interface''. When the CUI does not block out the real world and creates
augmented reality Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including v ...
, the CUI is augmented and uses an ''augmented reality interface''. When a UI interacts with all human senses, it is called a qualia interface, named after the theory of
qualia In philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of that studies the and nature of the and its relationship with the body. The is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy of mind, although a number of other issues are addressed, such as the ...
. CUI may also be classified by how many senses they interact with as either an X-sense virtual reality interface or X-sense augmented reality interface, where X is the number of senses interfaced with. For example, a Smell-O-Vision is a 3-sense (3S) Standard CUI with visual display, sound and smells; when ''virtual reality interfaces'' interface with smells and touch it is said to be a 4-sense (4S) virtual reality interface; and when ''augmented reality interfaces'' interface with smells and touch it is said to be a 4-sense (4S) augmented reality interface.


Overview

The user interface or ''human–machine interface'' is the part of the machine that handles the human–machine interaction. Membrane switches, rubber keypads and touchscreens are examples of the physical part of the Human Machine Interface which we can see and touch. In complex systems, the human–machine interface is typically computerized. The term ''human–computer interface'' refers to this kind of system. In the context of computing, the term typically extends as well to the software dedicated to control the physical elements used for
human–computer interaction Human–computer interaction (HCI) studies the design and use of computer technology, focused on the interfaces between people ( users) and computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or lo ...
. The engineering of human–machine interfaces is enhanced by considering
ergonomics Human factors and ergonomics (commonly referred to as human factors) is the application of psychological and physiological principles to the engineering and design of products, processes, and systems. The goal of human factors is to reduce human e ...
(
human factors Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species ...
). The corresponding disciplines are
human factors engineering Human factors and ergonomics (commonly referred to as human factors) is the application of psychological and physiological principles to the engineering and design of products, processes, and systems. The goal of human factors is to reduce human e ...
(HFE) and
usability engineering Usability engineering is a field that is concerned generally with human–computer interaction Human–computer interaction (HCI) studies the design and use of computer technology, focused on the interfaces between people ( users) and computer ...
(UE), which is part of
systems engineering Systems engineering is an field of and that focuses on how to design, integrate, and manage s over their s. At its core, systems engineering utilizes principles to organize this body of knowledge. The individual outcome of such efforts, an e ...
. Tools used for incorporating human factors in the interface design are developed based on knowledge of
computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of , , and . Computer science ...
, such as
computer graphics Computer graphics deals with generating images with the aid of computers A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can p ...

computer graphics
,
operating systems An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems like macOS macOS (; previously Mac OS X and later ...
,
programming language A programming language is a formal language In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calcu ...

programming language
s. Nowadays, we use the expression
graphical user interface The graphical user interface (GUI "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ) is a form of user interface that allows users User may refer to: Ancient Egyptian roles * User (ancient Egyptian official), an ancient Egyptian nomarch (gove ...
for human–machine interface on computers, as nearly all of them are now using graphics. Multimodal interfaces allow users to interact using more than one
modality Modality may refer to: Humanities * Modality (theology), the organization and structure of the church, as distinct from sodality or parachurch organizations * Modality (music), in music, the subject concerning certain diatonic scales * Modalities ...
of user input.


Terminology

There is a difference between a user interface and an operator interface or a human–machine interface (HMI). * The term "user interface" is often used in the context of (personal) computer systems and
electronic devices Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electron The electron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , whose electric charge Electric charge is the physica ...
. ** Where a network of equipment or computers are interlinked through an MES (Manufacturing Execution System)-or Host to display information. ** A human–machine interface (HMI) is typically local to one machine or piece of equipment, and is the interface method between the human and the equipment/machine. An operator interface is the interface method by which multiple pieces of equipment that are linked by a host control system are accessed or controlled. ** The system may expose several user interfaces to serve different kinds of users. For example, a computerized library database might provide two user interfaces, one for library patrons (limited set of functions, optimized for ease of use) and the other for library personnel (wide set of functions, optimized for efficiency). * The user interface of a
mechanical Mechanical may refer to: Machine * Mechanical system A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional properties. It may represent human-made or naturally occurring device molecular machine that uses Power (physics), p ...

mechanical
system, a vehicle or an
industrial Industrial may also refer to: Industry * Industrial archaeology, the study of the history of the industry * Industrial engineering, engineering dealing with the optimization of complex industrial processes or systems * Industrial loan company, a f ...
installation is sometimes referred to as the human–machine interface (HMI). HMI is a modification of the original term MMI (man–machine interface). In practice, the abbreviation MMI is still frequently used although some may claim that MMI stands for something different now. Another abbreviation is HCI, but is more commonly used for
human–computer interaction Human–computer interaction (HCI) studies the design and use of computer technology, focused on the interfaces between people ( users) and computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or lo ...
. Other terms used are operator interface console (OIC) and operator interface terminal (OIT). However it is abbreviated, the terms refer to the 'layer' that separates a human that is operating a machine from the machine itself. Without a clean and usable interface, humans would not be able to interact with information systems. In
science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a of which typically deals with and futuristic concepts such as advanced and , , , , and . It has been called the " of ", and it often explores the potential consequences of . Scien ...

science fiction
, HMI is sometimes used to refer to what is better described as a
direct neural interface DIRECT was a late-2000s proposed alternative super heavy lift launch vehicle architecture supporting NASA's Vision for Space Exploration that would replace the space agency's planned Ares I and Ares V rockets with a family of Shuttle-Derived Launch ...
. However, this latter usage is seeing increasing application in the real-life use of (medical)
prostheses In medicine Medicine is the Art (skill), art, science, and Praxis (process) , practice of caring for a patient and managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment or Palliative care , palliation of t ...
—the artificial extension that replaces a missing body part (e.g.,
cochlear implants A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted Neuroprosthetics, neuroprosthesis that provides a person who has bilateral moderate-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss with sound perception and an opportunity with therapy for improved speech u ...
). In some circumstances, computers might observe the user and react according to their actions without specific commands. A means of tracking parts of the body is required, and sensors noting the position of the head, direction of gaze and so on have been used experimentally. This is particularly relevant to immersive interfaces.


History

The history of user interfaces can be divided into the following phases according to the dominant type of user interface:


1945–1968: Batch interface

In the batch era, computing power was extremely scarce and expensive. User interfaces were rudimentary. Users had to accommodate computers rather than the other way around; user interfaces were considered overhead, and software was designed to keep the processor at maximum utilization with as little overhead as possible. The input side of the user interfaces for batch machines was mainly
punched card A punched card (also punch cardSteven Pinker, in ''The Stuff of Thought'', Viking, 2007, p.362, notes the loss of ''-ed'' in pronunciation ''as it did in ice cream, mincemeat, and box set, formerly iced cream, minced meat, and boxed set.'' or pu ...

punched card
s or equivalent media like
paper tape Five- and eight-hole punched paper tape file:Harwell-dekatron-witch-10.jpg, Paper tape reader on the Harwell computer with a small piece of five-hole tape connected in a circle – creating a physical program loop Punched tape or perforated pape ...

paper tape
. The output side added
line printer A line printer prints one entire line of text before advancing to another line. Most early line printers were impact printers File:Printer.ogv, A video showing an Inkjet printing, inkjet printer while printing a page. In computing, a pr ...
s to these media. With the limited exception of the system operator's console, human beings did not interact with batch machines in real time at all. Submitting a job to a batch machine involved, first, preparing a deck of punched cards describing a program and a dataset. Punching the program cards wasn't done on the computer itself, but on
keypunch A keypunch is a device for precisely punching holes into stiff paper cards at specific locations as determined by keys struck by a human operator. Other devices included here for that same function include the gang punch, the pantograph punch, a ...
es, specialized typewriter-like machines that were notoriously bulky, unforgiving, and prone to mechanical failure. The software interface was similarly unforgiving, with very strict syntaxes meant to be parsed by the smallest possible compilers and interpreters. Once the cards were punched, one would drop them in a job queue and wait. Eventually, operators would feed the deck to the computer, perhaps mounting magnetic tapes to supply another dataset or helper software. The job would generate a printout, containing final results or an abort notice with an attached error log. Successful runs might also write a result on magnetic tape or generate some data cards to be used in a later computation. The
turnaround time In general, turnaround time (TAT) means the amount of time taken to complete a process or fulfill a request. The concept thus overlaps with lead time and can be contrasted with cycle time. Meaning in computing In computing, turnaround time is t ...
for a single job often spanned entire days. If one was very lucky, it might be hours; there was no real-time response. But there were worse fates than the card queue; some computers required an even more tedious and error-prone process of toggling in programs in binary code using console switches. The very earliest machines had to be partly rewired to incorporate program logic into themselves, using devices known as
plugboard accounting machine control panel wiring. This board was labeled "profit & loss summary." A plugboard or control panel (the term used depends on the application area) is an array of jack (connector), jacks or sockets (often called hubs) into whi ...
s. Early batch systems gave the currently running job the entire computer; program decks and tapes had to include what we would now think of as
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems like macOS macOS (; previously Mac OS X and later ...

operating system
code to talk to I/O devices and do whatever other housekeeping was needed. Midway through the batch period, after 1957, various groups began to experiment with so-called " load-and-go" systems. These used a monitor program which was always resident on the computer. Programs could call the monitor for services. Another function of the monitor was to do better error checking on submitted jobs, catching errors earlier and more intelligently and generating more useful feedback to the users. Thus, monitors represented the first step towards both operating systems and explicitly designed user interfaces.


1969–present: Command-line user interface

Command-line interfaces (CLIs) evolved from batch monitors connected to the system console. Their interaction model was a series of request-response transactions, with requests expressed as textual commands in a specialized vocabulary. Latency was far lower than for batch systems, dropping from days or hours to seconds. Accordingly, command-line systems allowed the user to change his or her mind about later stages of the transaction in response to real-time or near-real-time feedback on earlier results. Software could be exploratory and interactive in ways not possible before. But these interfaces still placed a relatively heavy
mnemonic A mnemonic () device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory Memory is the faculty of the by which or is , stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the ...

mnemonic
load on the user, requiring a serious investment of effort and learning time to master. The earliest command-line systems combined
teleprinter A teleprinter (teletypewriter, teletype or TTY) is an device that can be used to send and receive typed messages through various communications channels, in both and configurations. Initially they were used in , which developed in the late ...
s with computers, adapting a mature technology that had proven effective for mediating the transfer of information over wires between human beings. Teleprinters had originally been invented as devices for automatic telegraph transmission and reception; they had a history going back to 1902 and had already become well-established in newsrooms and elsewhere by 1920. In reusing them, economy was certainly a consideration, but psychology and the Rule of Least Surprise mattered as well; teleprinters provided a point of interface with the system that was familiar to many engineers and users. The widespread adoption of video-display terminals (VDTs) in the mid-1970s ushered in the second phase of command-line systems. These cut latency further, because characters could be thrown on the phosphor dots of a screen more quickly than a printer head or carriage can move. They helped quell conservative resistance to interactive programming by cutting ink and paper consumables out of the cost picture, and were to the first TV generation of the late 1950s and 60s even more iconic and comfortable than teleprinters had been to the computer pioneers of the 1940s. Just as importantly, the existence of an accessible screen — a two-dimensional display of text that could be rapidly and reversibly modified — made it economical for software designers to deploy interfaces that could be described as visual rather than textual. The pioneering applications of this kind were computer games and text editors; close descendants of some of the earliest specimens, such as rogue(6), and (1), are still a live part of
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast t ...

Unix
tradition.


1985: SAA User Interface or Text-Based User Interface

In 1985, with the beginning of
Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several proprietary {{Short pages monitor