Human machine interfaces (HMI) can be found in a wide variety of industrial and applications, ranging from in-car control systems to retail point-of-sale (PoS) and industrial/factory equipment controls. While the underlying principle behind them remains the same — to offer an interface through which a human operator can control a machine — there are distinguishable differences between them that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Today, we’re going to reveal some of the key qualities to look for in an HMI.
This element is pretty self-explanatory. A good HMI could feature a clear interface with letters, numbers, symbols, and other elements that are easy for the operator to see and read. If the interface features messy, cluttered characters, human operators may have trouble entering the appropriate commands.
Does the HMI provide a “familiar” look and feel? Even if a worker has never used the HMI before, he or she shouldn’t have a problem navigating through its controls and interface. HMIs with a natural and familiar design are easier for workers to use; thus, boosting satisfaction and overall effectiveness.
Many people overlook the importance of choosing an ergonomic HMI, assuming it has little-to-no impact on its quality. However, ergonomics can and will affect the quality of an HMI. The term ergonomics refers to the fitting of an environment or device to meet the needs of a worker. When speaking in the context of an HMI, it should be designed in a manner that’s natural and comfortable for the operator to use. If the interface is displayed in an awkward area or angle, it could lead to discomfort, which of course is poor ergonomics.
When you input commands into an HMI, it should respond swiftly by sending those commands to appropriate machine. Granted, all HMIs will experience some delay/lag, but it’s usually insignificant and not enough to cause any noticeable difference. But if there’s several seconds between when you enter the command and when the machine responds, it may hinder the HMIs ability to perform its intended operations.
If you enter the same command ten different times, the HMI should respond with the same results all ten times. But if the HMI responds with different results, this is indicative of poor consistency. A high-quality HMI should be accurate and consistent, so don’t underestimate the importance of this characteristic. If your HMI is not consistent, it can lead to a whole new world of problems.