What Are The Different Types Of Human Computer Interface (HCI)?


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Samuel Chiltern answered
Definition of Human Computer Interface (HCI)
An HCI is a blend of hardware and software, which has been specifically-developed with the intention of allowing the exchange of information between computers and humans.

Examples of HCI Hardware Inputs
Let's begin with the most common input devices which many of us use on a daily basis. Examples that I'm sure most people would recognise include:

  • Keyboards
  • Mice/trackballs
  • Trackpads
  • Touch screens
However, we can expand upon this list to add everyday devices which can be utilised for command input, such as:

  • Microphone - speech-to-text software can turn a user's words into commands
  • Webcam - software that interprets gesture-based commands

Examples of HCI Outputs
Computers must relay information back to the user in order to complete the interaction, and this will usually be done via the two main HCI outputs:

  • Computer monitor
  • Speakers
Additional hardware exists for those with visual impairments, such as refreshable Braille displays.

Examples of HCI in Software
Using hardware to interact with a computer is just the beginning! The programs that you use on your computer, (including your Operating System), use interface design techniques to communicate the purpose of the software, and the ways in which you can interact with it.

For example:

  • Trash-can icon - drag and drop a file here to 'bin it'
  • Save icon - click this to save a file to disk. The icon is normally an image of the now-defunct 3.5 inch floppy disk, but the its meaning has wide acceptance nonetheless
  • Pull-down menus - these usually contain more specific functions than those provided by icons, and are generally harder to use, since they don't employ images to convey meaning
  • Resize window gripper - the 'grip' in the corner of a window creates the impression that the corner can be grabbed, and moved around

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