If you keep up with our blog, you are probably well aware of the general concept behind human machine interfaces (HMI). Such interfaces live up to their namesake by offering a medium through which a human operator can control a machine. HMIs are frequently used in industrial applications, as well as various equipment and machines. However, there are other types of interfaces worth noting, including adaptive user interfaces. So, what in the world is an adaptive user interface?
An adaptive user interface (AUI) is essentially a sub-type of user interface that adapts its layout and design elements to meet the unique needs of each user. Most types of user interfaces are static in the sense that they do not change. Using a specific user interface ten times in the same manner will result in the same interface — but that is not the case with AUI. This special type of user interface adapts by changing its layout and/or design elements to improve usability.
AUI relies on the use of logically distinct components like interactive documents and applications to achieve this goal. According to Wikipedia, the adaptation process is “negotiated,” meaning the designer pays little-to-no attention to the traditional locations on which design interface elements should go, instead basing his or her decision on both the designers’ and users’ needs. This type of user interface is created based on the device’s features as well as the knowledge of when and how users will access it.
You might be wondering what benefits (if any) there are to using an adaptive user interface? Well, there are a few benefits worth noting, one of which is its ability to conform to meet the needs of the user. In turn, this creates a positive user experience while reducing the risk for error. AUIs may change their design layout to create a more fluid and intuitive experience for the end user, which may also reduce the number of steps required to achieve the user’s end goal. There’s also some believe that AUIs can increase system stability — a huge benefit in itself.
On the other hand, there are some possible disadvantages to using an AUI, including its time constraints. AUIs can be time consuming, as they must change layouts and design elements from the default settings. Furthermore, the AUI must be created with multiple levels and styles of implementations, which can be complex and downright confusing for designers at time.