Human Interface Device

What Does Human Interface Device Mean?

A human interface device (HID) is a method by which a human interacts with an electronic information system either by inputting data or providing output. A myriad of HID devices exist. The most common are the keyboards, mice, computer speakers, webcams and headsets. All devices providing an interface between the user and computer machines are considered HIDs.


It is an integral part of a user interface, which more academically may be called a human-computer interface (HCI) or more generically as a interface device.

Techopedia Explains Human Interface Device

Most operating systems (OS) recognize basic HID devices, such as mice and keyboards, without the need for a specific driver. This facilitates the plug and play (PnP) attributes of USB devices. Some HIDs, such as a mouse, receive user input only. Others, such as speakers, provide output only. While the input or output type vary, the standardization achieved by the HID standard encompasses the connection and exchange of information between the computer host and the device. These details, though hidden from the user, facilitate device implementation and are instrumental in the rapid innovation and proliferation of HIDs.

Contemporary interface devices largely use a graphical user interfaces (GUI) instead of the older, more limited command line interface (CLI). In GUI, images, icons, and software devices are displayed for humans to manipulate to accomplish tasks instead of CLI which employs standardized typed commands to communicate with a computer to accomplish tasks.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.