Carving Pillar For Enterprise: HMI

by CXOtoday Staff    Nov 08, 2006

Advances in Human-Machine Interface (HMI) Technologies, covers an industry-wide perspective on promising developments and advances in the HMI industry, the most significant focus areas being display terminals, industrial personal computers (PCs) and HMI’s software.

HMI refers to the junction where technology and people collaborate. The main purpose of it is to make a technology’s function self-evident. Empowering it with features such as ease-of-use and programmability, easy understanding, and clear display of information accomplishes this, a Frost & Sullivan survey said.

“Every designer needs to understand that the interface determines the perceptions that operators will have about the machine,” said Sivakumar Muthuramalingam, manager, Frost & Sullivan.

“Although there are designers that consider the HMI as a mere tool or prerequisite to make things work, many new technologies with significant benefits are set to make it the center of all monitoring and control operations,” added Muthuramalingam.

For example, in products such as mobile phones, the clear plastic screen is the primary interface and is often an extremely expensive component. Apart from making the entire product user-friendly, this clear and scratch-resistant plastic screen provides perception quality. In the same vein, the main aim of utilizing automation solutions is to increase productivity and performance. HMIs help operators in running entire manufacturing processes in an optimum way, apart from cutting costs and effective management in case of any delay in manufacturing.

Despite several such positive elements contributing to the success of HMI technologies, suppliers need to focus on increasing user-acceptance of its solutions, especially Web-based HMIs and mobile devices. Further, its developers should focus on devices that are easy to integrate, install and use. The user should have knowledge of various applications and features of the HMI that would help in promoting these solutions, the survey mentioned.

“Users are increasingly interacting with Web sites and applications using mobile devices,” noted Muthuramalingam.

User research tools and methods will have to be flexible enough to capture user experience on delivery channels such as cell phones, PDAs, laptops, kiosks and operating systems. By understanding how users interact across all channels, design teams will be able to create a seamless and familiar user experience. The trend of portability in user interaction devices is driving the need for more portable research tools that can capture user interaction in the way people use them in everyday life. This is likely to aid in increased advancement of HMI technologies.