Human Computer Interaction

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Breadcrumbs: The Future of Ubiquitous Computing --> Human Computer Interaction


Human–computer interaction (HCI) is the study of interaction between people (users) and computers. It is an interdisciplinary subject, relating computer science with many other fields of study and research. Interaction between users and computers occurs at the user interface (or simply interface), which includes both software and hardware, for example, general purpose computer peripherals and large-scale mechanical systems such as aircraft and power plants.

A basic goal of HCI is to improve the interaction between users and computers by making computers more usable and receptive to the user's needs.

A long term goal of HCI is to design systems that minimize the barrier between the human's cognitive model of what they want to accomplish and the computer's understanding of the user's task. In another way the goal is to enable humans to communicate with their natural language with computers.

Researchers pursue to devise new human interfaces, new ways for people to communicate their needs and desires to the computational systems around them. They are interested in developing new design methodologies, experimenting with new hardware devices, prototyping new software systems, exploring new paradigms for interaction, and developing models and theories of interaction.

These new models require for more input modalities beyond the standard keyboard and screen, trackball, touch pad, and mouse. Input modalities that include all our 5 senses.



  • Bad design and implementation of Human Computer Interaction
  • Cultural difference



  • NyU's Interactive Telecommunications Program
  • Jun Rekimoto's
  • Applied Minds
  • Don Norman


Human-computer interaction arose as a field from intertwined roots in computer graphics, operating systems, human factors, ergonomics, industrial engineering, cognitive psychology, and the systems part of computer science. Computer graphics was born from the use of CRT and pen devices very early in the history of computers. This led to the development of several human-computer interaction techniques. Many techniques date from Sutherland's Sketchpad Ph.D. thesis (1963) that essentially marked the beginning of computer graphics as a discipline. Work in computer graphics has continued to develop algorithms and hardware that allow the display and manipulation of ever more realistic-looking objects (e.g., CAD/CAM machine parts or medical images of body parts). Computer graphics has a natural interest in HCI as "interactive graphics" (e.g., how to manipulate solid models in a CAD/CAM system).

A related set of developments were attempts to pursue "man-machine symbiosis" (Licklider, 1960), the "augmentation of human intellect" (Engelbart, 1963), and the "Dynabook" (Kay and Goldberg, 1977). Out of this line of development came a number of important building blocks for human-computer interaction. Some of these building blocks include the mouse, bitmapped displays, personal computers, windows, the desktop metaphor, and point-and-click editors (see Baecker & Buxton, 1987, Chapter 1).

Work on operating systems, meanwhile, developed techniques for interfacing input/output devices, for tuning system response time to human interaction times, for multiprocessing, and for supporting windowing environments and animation. This strand of development has currently given rise to "user interface management systems" and "user interface toolkits".

Human factors, as a discipline, derives from the problems of designing equipment operable by humans during World War II (Sanders & McCormick, 1987). Many problems faced by those working on human factors had strong sensory-motor features (e.g., the design of flight displays and controls). The problem of the human operation of computers was a natural extension of classical human factors concerns, except that the new problems had substantial cognitive, communication, and interaction aspects not previously developed in human factors, forcing a growth of human factors in these directions. Ergonomics is similar to human factors, but it arose from studies of work. As with human factors, the concerns of ergonomics tended to be at the sensory-motor level, but with an additional physiological flavor and an emphasis on stress. Human interaction with computers was also a natural topic for ergonomics, but again, a cognitive extension to the field was necessary resulting in the current "cognitive ergonomics" and "cognitive engineering." Because of their roots, ergonomic studies of computers emphasize the relationship to the work setting and the effects of stress factors, such as the routinization of work, sitting posture, or the vision design of CRT displays.

Industrial engineering arose out of attempts to raise industrial productivity starting in the early years of this century. The early emphasis in industrial engineering was in the design of efficient manual methods for work (e.g., a two-handed method for the laying of bricks), the design of specialized tools to increase productivity and reduce fatigue (e.g., brick pallets at waist height so bricklayers didn't have to bend over), and, to a lesser extent, the design of the social environment (e.g., the invention of the suggestion box). Interaction with computers is a natural topic for the scope of industrial engineering in the context of how the use of computers fit into the larger design of work methods.

Cognitive psychology derives from attempts to study sensation experimentally at the end of the 19th century. In the 1950's, an infusion of ideas from communications engineering, linguistics, and computer engineering led to an experimentally-oriented discipline concerned with human information processing and performance. Cognitive psychologists have concentrated on the learning of systems, the transfer of that learning, the mental representation of systems by humans, and human performance on such systems.

Finally, the growth of discretionary computing and the mass personal computer and workstation computer markets have meant that sales of computers are more directly tied to the quality of their interfaces than in the past. The result has been the gradual evolution of a standardized interface architecture from hardware support of mice to shared window systems to "application management layers." Along with these changes, researchers and designers have begun to develop specification techniques for user interfaces and testing techniques for the practical production of interfaces.

In addition a very detailed history of HCI is given by the following ppt. History of HCI

Web Resources

ACM Curricula for HCI