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Human-machine interface (HMI) is a component of certain devices that are capable of handling human-machine interactions. The interface consists of hardware and software that allow user inputs to be translated as signals for machines that, in turn, provide the required result to the user. Human-machine interface technology has been used in different industries like electronics, entertainment, military, medical, etc. Human-machine interfaces help in integrating humans into complex technological systems.
Human-machine interface is also known as man-machine interface (MMI), computer-human interface or human-computer interface.
In HMI, the interactions are basically of two types, i.e., human to machine and machine to human. Since HMI technology is ubiquitous, the interfaces involved can include motion sensors, keyboards and similar peripheral devices, speech-recognition interfaces and any other interaction in which information is exchanged using sight, sound, heat and other cognitive and physical modes are considered to be part of HMIs.
Although considered as a standalone technological area, HMI technology can be used as an adapter for other technologies. The basis of building HMIs largely depends on the understanding of human physical, behavioral and mental capabilities. In other words, ergonomics forms the principles behind HMIs. Apart from enhancing the user experience and efficiency, HMIs can provide unique opportunities for applications, learning and recreation. In fact, HMI helps in the rapid acquisition of skills for users. A good HMI is able to provide realistic and natural interactions with external devices.
The advantages provided by incorporating HMIs include error reduction, increased system and user efficiency, improved reliability and maintainability, increased user acceptance and user comfort, reduction in training and skill requirements, reduction in physical or mental stress for users, reduction in task saturation, increased economy of production and productivity, etc.
Touchscreens and membrane switches can be considered as examples of HMIs. HMI technology is also widely used in virtual and flat displays, pattern recognition, Internet and personal computer access, data input for electronic devices, and information fusion.
Professional bodies like GEIA and ISO provide standards and guidelines applicable for human-machine interface technology.