Promising developments and advances in HMI industry

By : |November 7, 2006 0

MUMBAI: Human-machine interface (HMI) refers to the junction where technology and people collaborate. The main purpose of the HMI is to make a technology’s function self-evident.

The HMI is most often the product and users judge its quality based on their interaction with the HMI. Empowering the HMI with features such as ease-of-use, ease of programmability, easy understanding and clear display of information accomplishes this.

A new study from Frost & Sullivan in Advances in Human-Machine Interface Technologies covers an industry-wide perspective on promising developments and advances in the HMI industry, the most significant focus areas being display terminals, industrial personal computers (PCs) and HMI software.

"Every designer needs to understand that the interface determines the perceptions that operators will have about the machine," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Manager Sivakumar Muthuramalingam. "Although there are designers that consider the HMI as a mere tool or prerequisite to make things work, many new technologies with significant benefits are set to make HMI the center of all monitoring and control operations."

For example, in products such as mobile phones, the clear plastic screen is the primary interface and is often an extremely expensive component. Apart from making the entire product user-friendly, this clear and scratch-resistant plastic screen provides perception quality. In the same vein, the main aim of utilizing automation solutions is to increase productivity and performance. HMIs help operators in running entire manufacturing processes in an optimum way, apart from cutting costs and effective management in case of any delay in manufacturing.

Despite several such positive elements contributing to the success of HMI technologies, suppliers need to focus on increasing user-acceptance of HMI solutions, especially Web-based HMIs and mobile devices. Further, HMI developers should focus on devices that are easy to integrate, install and use. The user should receive knowledge of various applications and features of the HMI that would help in promoting these solutions.

"Users are increasingly interacting with Web sites and applications using mobile devices," notes Muthuramalingam. "To conduct research on these devices so users can naturally interact with them is extremely difficult today."

User research tools and methods will have to be flexible enough to capture user experience on delivery channels such as cell phones, PDAs, laptops, kiosks and operating systems. By understanding how users interact across all channels, design teams will be able to create a seamless and familiar user experience. The trend of portability in user interaction devices is driving the need for more portable research tools that can capture user interaction in the way people use them in everyday life. This is likely to aid in increased advancement of HMI technologies.

Advances in Human-Machine Interface Technologies is part of the Industrial Automation & Process Control Subscription, and it tracks the trends in the manufacturing industry, which is constantly evolving to cater to advanced automation technologies.

© CIOL Bureau

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