Human-Machine Interaction - Point of View/ Domain of Investigations

 Attention : Script is not a complete representation of the oral lecture !!! 
Script is not yet completely finished !!!

AUTHOR: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
EMAIL: doeben_at_fb2.fh-frankfurt.de

HMI - Historical View

From a historical point of view one can embed the task of human machine interaction sciences within the bigger framework of human evolution (cf. figure).:

Figure: Co-Evolution of Human Information Processing and Real world Environment

  The human body and information processing capabilities have been developed through about 3.5 Billion years. One of the main design results  is the enabling of a human system which can cope with the challenges of its environments. Therefore we can state today that there is an astonishing coupling of real world conditions and human body properties capable of 'surviving' under these real conditions.  The main medium for the 'shaping' of the working structures of the human body is the population which enables genetic production within re-production, which enables growing as well as learning.

For more details see e.g.: Bowler, B. J. (1989); Deacon, T. W. (1997); Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. (1980); Hauser, M. D. (1996); Küppers, B. - O. (1990); Ward, P. D., & Brownlee, D. (2000).

With the recently advent of technical systems called 'machines' the situation has changed a little bit. These machines are not co-evolved with the real biological capabilities of human persons; they have been constructed out of partial knowledge about world and biological live. In the beginning they were usually badly adapted to the real world interaction interface of human persons. Only  very recently gained the technology some maturity which allows a better adaptation to the biological interface of human persons. And because technical systems are invading today more and more the daily environment of people, are becoming part of the local living space, is the necessity growing to adapt these machines to the real properties of human persons to minimize failures, damages, and all kinds of negative impact on human persons.

Figure: Main Requirements for Human Machine Interfaces

The ideal Human Machine Interface is similar enough to the usual way how human persons are interacting with their real environment and that their demand on human capabilities is safely within the available biological limits. The usual case today is that the Human Machine interfaces are still badly adapted and that they are usually not within the biological limits. This will become evident when we will consider for instance the   today interfaces with regard to their challenges of human memory. Human memory is a central resource of human information processing and most machine interfaces are badly adapted to the  memory capabilities of people, especially young and elderly people.

HMI - Mission

Turning from the historical  perspective to the special domain of interest of Human Machine Interactions we would describe the main tasks of the sciences of HMI as follows (cf. the following figure):

MMI-Domain of Investigations
Figure: MMI - Domain of Investigations

(i) Being able to evaluate machines with regard to the intended users, whether the machines are 'usable' for the intended applications of the user.

To be able to make such evaluations one needs as point of reference the 'ideal values' describing the capabilities of the user. Therefore:

(ii) Describe the biological (and psychological) limits within every kind of MMI has to be placed. Because the human system is a dynamic system with characteristic growth processes, including aging, as well as typical kinds of limitations, one has to consider important 'subgroups' characterized by special sets of properties.

In todays societies there exist a lot of important cultural, political, social etc. 'norms' and 'standards' which have to be obeyed during actions. Therefore:

(iii) Explain or certify whether and how certain valid norms/ standards are fulfilled by a certain user interface

What is not a genuine task of MMI is the design and construction of a concrete user interface (UI). This belongs to software engineering (SWE), which is a discipline on its own. MMI can (and should) support SWE to build 'good' user interfaces.

One has also to distinguish between the general conditions which have to be examined by MMI and the special conditions. The general conditions are part of every kind of user interface. The special conditions are due to special application scenarios. But because every concrete User interface is designed to service in the solution of certain problems as part of some social reality (a working group, a department, a company,....) one has to consider also these contexts. But because these context vary enormously one can only select some examples to illustrate by them some general principles.