Human-Computer Interaction

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human-computer interaction

[¦yü·mən kəm¦pyüd·ər ‚in·tər′ak·shən]
(computer science)
The processes through which human users work with interactive computer systems.

Human-computer interaction

An interdisciplinary field focused on the interactions between human users and computer systems, including the user interface and the underlying processes which produce the interactions. The contributing disciplines include computer science, cognitive science, human factors, software engineering, management science, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Early research and development in human-computer interaction focused on issues directly related to the user interface. Some typical issues were the properties of various input and output devices, interface learnability for new users versus efficiency and extensibility for experienced users, and the appropriate combination of interaction components such as command languages, menus, and graphical user interfaces (GUI). Recently, the field of human-computer interaction has broadened and become more attentive to the processes and context for the user interface. The focus of research and development is now on understanding the relationships among users' goals and objectives, their personal capabilities, the social environment, and the designed artifacts with which they interact. As an applied field, human-computer interaction is also concerned with the development process used to create the interactive system and its value for the human user.

The interfaces and processes that make up human-computer interaction are understood and advanced through a variety of methods. At one level, this interaction can be characterized by the capabilities and processes of the human and the computer to accept input, process that input, and generate output. The computer capabilities include the hardware (input and output devices) such as the monitor, mouse, keyboard, and Internet connection. These devices reflect contributions from computer science and engineering, whereas the human capabilities, both mental and physical, are understood through cognitive science and ergonomics. At another level, the interaction between the computer and the human consists of user interface software which governs the meanings of the inputs and outputs for the computer, as well as the corresponding rules and expectations that the user applies to generate meaningful actions. The user's internal model of the interaction is supported by visual cues in the interface and designed in accordance with principles of human factors. At a higher level, this interaction includes the context of goals, motivations, and other people and resources that determine what the person is doing. Understanding the process at this level requires insights from social and organizational sciences. See Human-factors engineering

Advances in computer science have significantly increased the processing power of computers while decreasing their size. These advances have provided the underlying technology for creating a wider variety of human-computer interactions. For example, streaming audio and video over the Internet, now common, would not be possible without the increased processing power and network connectivity of computers. These technological developments were influenced by the discovery of useful applications in human-computer interaction. Increasingly sophisticated software has become available to address input through natural speech and immersive environments, providing a virtual reality experience. See Virtual reality

Developing human-computer interactions involves design on both sides of the interaction. On the technology side, the designer must have a thorough understanding of the available hardware and software components and tools. On the human side, the designer must have a good understanding of how humans learn and work with computers, including envisioning new modes of working. The designer's task is to create effective, efficient, and satisfying interactions by balancing factors such as cost, benefits, standards, and the environmental constraints in which the interaction will take place.

Modern prototyping tools allow for the use of an iterative development model where a representative portion of the interface is designed and implemented with each iteration. Feedback from testers is used to enhance the design with each iteration. The final design consists of many elements: the resulting artifacts for use by the target population, as well as supporting elements such as an analysis of needs and tasks, descriptions of the dialog rules and users' conceptual models, expected scenarios of use, and the designer's rationale and reflections from the development process.

Human-Computer Interaction

(software, hardware)
(HCI) The study of how humans interact with computers, and how to design computer systems that are easy, quick and productive for humans to use.

See also Human-Computer Interface.

HCI Sites.
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