Whether you are personally designing a human machine interface (HMI) or outsourcing the task to a third-party company, there are a few things to keep in mind. To ensure a high-quality HMI that performs its intended functions, refer to the design tips listed below.
Focus on Ergonomics
A good HMI should feature an ergonomic design that natural for the operator to use. If the buttons are too small or spaced too far apart, for instance, it could be uncomfortable or even difficult for a human operator to use. Ergonomics — the practice of fitting a workspace or device to meet the needs of the operator — can be used to overcome these hurdles.
Implement Tactile Feedback
Tactile feedback is used extensively in HMIs and other input devices, and for good reason: it improves accuracy and user satisfaction. Something as simple as a light vibration can indicate to the operator that his or her command was properly registered. Without this vibration or other forms of tactile feedback, the operator would have to confirm his or her input through other means, such as a visual inspection of the HMI or its connected device or system. Of course, tactile feedback isn’t limited strictly to HMIs; it’s also used in smartphones, tablets, computer monitors and other devices
Even if the HMI appears to fulfill all of your needs, it’s always a good idea to test it before launching it in your workplace. Does the operating system load and function as intended? Are the keys ergonomically designed in a manner that’s comfortable for the operator? Is there a long delay between when you press a command and when the HMI registers it? These are just a few of the many questions that you should try to answer when testing an HMI.
Use the Right Back Lighting
Not all back lighting options used in HMIs are made equal. Some of them may burn out after just a couple months, whereas others can last for years. Unless you want to invest the time, money and resources into changing the back light of your HMI, it’s recommended that you choose a long-lasting variety, such as fiber optics or light-emitting diode (LED). Both LED and fiber optics back lights are designed to last for significantly longer than their counterparts, making them the preferred choices for use in HMIs.