How Computers Interact With Humans (Guide)

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) combines computer science, behavioral sciences, and design to help humans interact with computers in novel ways. Humans interact with computers in many ways; the interface between humans and computers is crucial to facilitating this interaction. HCI deals with the construction and implementation of interfaces and tool-building technologies that would adapt seamlessly to people's needs. 

It focuses on creating simplified interfaces to achieve the best satisfaction for various types of users. HCI does not only study how people interact with computers but also to what extent computers are developed for successful interaction with human beings. Which includes the way humans make or do not make use of computational artifacts, systems and infrastructures. In doing so, much of the research in the field seeks to improve human–computer interaction by improving the usability of computer interfaces.

The emerging multi-modal and Graphical user interfaces (GUI) allow humans to engage with embodied character agents in a way that cannot be achieved with other interface paradigms. The growth in this field has been in quality of interaction, and in different branching in its history. Instead of designing regular interfaces, the different research branches have had a different focus on the concepts of multimodality rather than unimodality, intelligent adaptive interfaces rather than command/action based ones, and finally active rather than passive interfaces. 

One important HCI factor is that different users form different conceptions or mental models about their interactions and have different ways of learning and keeping knowledge and skills (different "cognitive styles" as in, for example, "left-brained" and "right-brained" people). In addition, cultural and national differences play a part. Another consideration in studying or designing HCI is that user interface technology changes rapidly, offering new interaction possibilities to which previous research findings may not apply. Finally, user preferences change as they gradually master new interfaces.

Now, let’s take a quick look at the difference between the terms User Interface (UI) and Human Computer Interaction (HCI). While HCI involves the study, planning, and design of the interaction between people (user) and often regarded as the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, design and several other field of study, User Interface (UI), is the system which helps users communicate with the computer system and/or the application system.

UI Consists of all the hardware, software, screens, menus, functions, and features that affect two-way communications between the user and the computer. A good user interface provides a unifying structure for finding, viewing and invoking the different components of a system. A command-driven interface is one in which you enter commands. 

A menu-driven interface is one in which you select command choices from various menus displayed on the screen. Human–computer interaction combines novel algorithms with design strategies that enable rapid human performance, low error rates, ease in learning, and high satisfaction. Researchers use ethnographic observation and automated data collection to understand user needs, then conduct usability tests to refine designs. 


Key innovations include the direct manipulation, selectable web links, touchscreen designs, mobile applications, and virtual reality. The field of HCI covers a wide range of topics, and its development has relied on contributions from many disciplines. Some of the main disciplines which have contributed to HCI are:

Computer Science - Technology, software design, development & maintenance, user Interface Management Systems (UIMS) & User Interface Development Environments (UIDE), prototyping tools, graphics etc.

Cognitive Psychology - Cognitive psychology covers areas such as language, learning and memory, speech, and the storage and recall of information. Behaviors occur as a result of how information is received and interpreted, and individual differences can vary greatly from one person to the next.

Process Information - The analogy of computer intelligence is often used to describe brain processes and the methods of sorting, filing, and relaying information. Like a computer, the brain takes in information, manipulates it, and then produces responses. When we understand just a little about a particular subject, we might open a book and read a more detailed description of the subject so we can add to the knowledge base we already possess. 

We might also replace information that was previously stored with information derived from studies that are more recent. This would be similar to a computer overwriting older files with newer versions. Although the basic information is the same, the newer ‘file’ contains more detail than the previous knowledge that had been stored for future recall. They ask questions like:
  • How do we receive information about the outside world?
  • How do we store and process information?
  • How do we solve problems?
  • How does a breakdown in our perceptions cause errors in our thinking?
  • How do errors in our thinking lead to emotional distress and negative behaviors?
With the development of new warfare technology during WWII, the need for a greater understanding of human performance came to prominence. Developments in computer science would lead to parallels being drawn between human thought and the computational functionality of computers, opening entirely new areas of psychological thought. 

Allen Newell and Herbert Simon spent years developing the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) and later worked with cognitive psychologists regarding the implications of AI. This encouraged a conceptualization of mental functions patterned on the way that computers handled such things as memory storage and retrieval, and it opened an important doorway for cognitivism. 

One of the main things in HCI design are humans and the end users who will be using the design. With humans the design could never happen. There are three functional principles of Information Processing to remember these include:
  • Human as a component;
  • Human Information Processing (HIP);
  • GOMS.
Human As A Component: The main principle is where people believe and understand that part of the computer / HCI is human. Without humans, HCI would not be possible. In HCI the user is the main component, the user will want the system to be able to calculate and perform complex tasks which would take the human brain a lot longer to process. 

The company / person who builds the HCI needs to take into consideration how long it takes for a human brain to calculate data because that way, they can create a HCI which is a lot faster and can process thousands of data every second.


Human Information Processing (HIP):

HIP is the theory on how humans work like computers. It is believed that the sensed of humans such as our hands, mouth, eyes and nose are our input devices which for a computer the input devices could be a mouse and keyboard. 

With HIP working like a computer which includes hardware and software, at first, the brain will first input the data as hardware, which will then be processed using software and then stores the information in either the STM (Short Term Memory) or LTM (Long Term Memory). It then acknowledges the information and makes a decision on the output.

Computers can perform at a faster and more efficient rate. They can process and produce information 24/7 and not require sleep. Computers can process hundreds of thousands of requests every second, whereas humans can only preform calculations one at a time. However, computers cannot hear nor understand what people are saying; it requires a person to type the information in to the system for it to be processed.

Information Processing on the other hand, is the change in state of information. It allows us to split information down into steps which can be easily read and understood by the human brain. It also allows people to store, retrieve and use information with ease.

 Steps To How Information Is Collected And Used:
  • Absorb the information
  • Analyze the information
  • Use the information
  • Do something with the information
  • GOMS (Goals, Operators, Methods, Selection Rules)

What is GOMS? GOMS stands for Goals, Operators, Methods and Selection Rules. It is a model that can be used to allow users and developers to understand, see and perform tasks that are undertaken in a Human Computer Interface. Goals is what the user wants to accomplish from the system, what task they want to complete. 

In order to complete a goal, the HCI must be used. An example of a goal would be finding an e-mail address from a contact list on Microsoft Outlook. When it comes to Operators, they are the actions that are physically taken and performed in order to complete a given goal. Again, this must be used under a HCI model. An example of an operation that is needed to take place in order to complete the goal would be to click on a menu and then press the contacts button under Microsoft Outlook.

Methods, are a set of tasks that are needed to be put in sequence in order to complete the goal. There are always more than one method that can be taken in order to find the information and complete the goal, for example using a menu or a search bar which includes the 'select name from contact list' or 'enter contact name' for a quicker and more efficient search.

How humans interact with computers depends on their Emotions, Intuition, Cultural influences, Language, Motivation, Senses and physical limitations. It is also dependent on their Problem solving abilities, how they learn and if they have any disabilities.

#buttons=(Accept !) #days=(20)

Our website uses cookies from Google to enhance your experience. Our Privacy Policy
Accept !