9682850788_6ec4e0019f_zFrom retail stores and restaurants to factories, manufacturing facilities and even automobiles, human machine interfaces (HMI) are found just about everywhere. In the most basic sense, they provide an interface through which a human operator can control a machine. But not all HMIs are made equal; some of them may work better than others, which is why it’s important to understand the different factors that affect the quality of HMIs.


Arguably, one of the most influential factors that affects the quality of an HMI is its responsiveness. Ideally, the HMI should respond fast by issuing the commands inputted by the operator. If there’s a delay, it will negatively impact the performance and overall quality of the HMI. This is why many manufacturers today place an emphasis on using fast, responsive HMIs as opposed to their sluggish, delayed counterparts.


Of course, ergonomics will also affect the quality of an HMI. Ergonomics refers to the tailoring of a device or machine to fit a human operator. If the keys are spaced too far apart that a human operator cannot easily use them, the device has poor ergonomics. Why is this a problem? Well, poor ergonomics can make the HMI difficult and uncomfortable to use. Furthermore, it may increase the risk of certain types of injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, for instance.


A third factor that plays a role in the quality of an HMI is clarity. The HMI should provide a clean, clear interface through which the human operator can control the machine. If it lacks the necessary back light, it could hinder the operator’s ability to perform the given task.


A lesser-known factor that affects HMI quality is familiarity. In other words, how familiar is the user with the HMI’s design? Most HMIs follow a general structure, playing keys and/or buttons in familiar areas. This creates a natural environment while subsequently improving user satisfaction and functionality.

There are just a few of the factors that impact HMI quality, others may include concision, consistency, aesthetics, efficiency and forgiveness. So if you’re in the market for a new HMI, take into account all of these factors. Doing so will give you a better idea of which HMI is best suited for your needs.