There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the term “human machine interface” and what it means. Some people believe it’s nothing more than a user interface, while others believe it’s a type of automated machine. However, both of these answers are incorrect, as HMIs have an entirely different meaning. To learn more about the basics of HMIs and how they are used in today’s world, keep reading.
So, what is a HMI exactly? If you asked ten different professionals this question, you would probably get ten different answers. That’s because there’s no universal standard for HMIs. With that said, however, HMIs share some basic characteristics which define them. Generally speaking, an HMI can best be described as a platform that allows the interaction between a human operator (or operators) and automation equipment. They typically support command inputs, allowing the operator to control the equipment.
HMIs often feature touchscreen interfaces for improved functionality and user satisfaction. Touchscreens are versatile, easy to use, and minimize the amount of required space. All of these characteristics make it an attractive choice when used for HMIs. However, you may also find them with physical buttons. The fundamental characteristic of an HMI is that it allows a human operator to control an automated machine or equipment.
In certain “complex systems,” the HMI is computerized. Also known as a “human-computer interface,” it’s used to describe both the hardware and software used to control the physical elements of a complex computer system.
We’ve talked about this before on our blog, but it’s worth mentioning again that several different factors affect the quality and performance of an HMI. One such factor is clarity, which refers to the detail of language and visual elements. Another factor affecting the quality and performance of HMIs is concision, which refers to the overall simplicity of its labeling. You want to explain what the buttons do, but at the same time you shouldn’t clutter the screen with too many objects. Familiarity is yet another factor that affects HMIs. As the name suggests, this refers to how familiar the HMI feels to the human operator. And responsiveness can also affect the performance of an HMI. HMIs should respond quickly to a user’s input. If there’s a delay, it may reduce the HMI’s performance while also lowering user satisfaction.
Did this give you a better understanding of HMIs?