xray-01You don’t have to search very hard (or long) to find a human machine interface (HMI) in action. From hospitals and doctors’ offices to retail stores, restaurants, manufacturing facilities and even your home, they are all around us. Of course, there’s a good reason for this growing trend: HMIs improve productive and efficiency while promoting a safer environment. To learn more about HMIs and some of their applications in the workplace, keep reading.

What is an HMI?

Human machine interfaces are exactly what they sound like: an interface through which a human operator controls a machine. This is the most basic definition of the term, as HMIs vary in terms of construction and design. Some of them are more complex, consisting of an array of input peripherals, whereas others are nothing more than a touchscreen display. Regardless the underlying principle behind HMIs remains the same: to allow human operators to control a machine. Without an HMI, there wouldn’t be a viable way to control the respective machine.

Graphical User Interface

Among them most commonly used HMI in the workplace is a graphical user interface (GUI). Assuming you are reading this blog post from a computer, you are using a GUI. Graphical user interfaces consist of an interface that’s displayed on a monitor or similar electronic display. The user may issue commands via a keyboard and/or mouse, telling the machine what to do next.

Direct Manipulation Interface

Another popular type of HMI is a direct manipulation interface. This is a general class of HMIs that’s characterized by the ability for users to manipulate objects via actions corresponding to the physical world. Direct manipulation interfaces are often used in manufacturing facilities, as it allows workers to control machines directly.

Hardware Interface

A hardware interface is a physical interface that’s found directly on a product or machine. Washing machines, clothes dryers and similar household appliances, for instance, may feature buttons, knobs and switches. The operator adjusts these controls to turn the appliance on or perform other actions.

These are just a few of the most commonly used HMIs in the workplace. Other HMIs may include web-based user interfaces, touch interfaces, object-oriented user interfaces, multi-screen user interfaces, tangible user interfaces, voice user interfaces, zooming interfaces, and more.