What is HCI | Human Computer Interface, Meaning, Importance, History, Principles, and Future

The concept of Human Computer Interface is relatively unknown to a lot of individuals. Therefore, in this write-up, we will talk about What is HCI, the meaning and importance of Human Computer interfaces.

For better understanding, we have included a brief history of HCI along with HCI examples, components and principles, future, trends, and more.

Human interaction with technology or computers has been in existence for several years now.

However, with the significant advancement and development in technology, the human computer interface has emerged.


What is meant by human computer interface?

Previously known as man-machine interaction or man-machine studies, Human Computer Interface is concerned with the design, execution, and assessment of computer systems alongside the related phenomenon for the use of humans.

HCI brings along the expertise from behavioral science, computer science, cognitive psychology, and design to recognize and initiate a better interface between machines and humans.

It is defined as a study that deals with people and computer interaction.

Also, it studies the extent to which computers are or are not developed to initiate or conduct successful interaction with humans.

As evident from the name, Human Computer Interface or HCI, it consists of three parts – the computer, the user, and the way of them working together or interaction.

  • User or Users means an individual or a group of users. Several aspects of the users such as sensory systems, mental models and different conceptions, cultural and national differences play an important part.
  • The computer can be any technology ranging from small computers to supercomputers. Also, other devices like VCRs and mobile phones can be regarded as computers.
  • Interaction refers to the way in which humans and computer interact. It works to ensure that both get along for a successful interaction. However, it is important to find a balance between several things and bridge the differences between machine and humans.

The scope of HCI expands to every aspect having the possibility of the computer installation.

Certain areas with distinct importance of Human Computer Interface can be named as follows:-

  • Psychology – In the application of theories and analytical purposes
  • Computer science – In application design and engineering
  • Industrial Design – In interactive goods or products such as microwave oven and mobile phones
  • Sociology – To initiate interaction between organization and technology

ACM – SIGCHI is the world’s leading organization for Human Computer Interface.

The full form of ACM – SIGCHI is Association for Computer Machinery – Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction. The association considers computer science to be a core discipline for HCI.

Why is human computer interface important?

Human Computer Interface has emerged as one of the most important considerations for tech or digital providers.

Every day, we interact with several technologies having a basic application in our life. Sometimes, it becomes difficult for us to understand the technology or device.

This is where interaction comes to play. Therefore, here are a few reasons with which one can infer the importance of the Human Computer interfaces.

  • User interface stands as an important element of any software. It is responsible for attracting the user to the application.
  • Interaction or Interface indicates an abstract model through which the humans interact with the machines.
  • Through HCI, one can gain an idea of user experience UX in which the computing devices and user application can be improved.
  • Human Computer Interface provides a design to develop a strong relationship between the device and user alongside the services which the device has to perform for achieving a task.
  • The importance of HCI can be inferred from its application in aircraft. It is required to put forth the functionality of the aircraft precisely.
  • Human Computer Interface stands important while designing several systems, software’s or interfaces such as train tickets website, ATM machines, banking software, aircraft, cars and management software’s among others.
  • Good use of HCI is not only deemed important for the user but software development companies as a high priority.
  • Topping it all, several technologies such as speech recognition, virtual environments, graphical user interface, multimedia presentation, handwriting recognition and more involved the active application of Human Computer Interface.

Today, Human Computer Interface is integrated into our lives than it has ever been. Moreover, it can be found in every aspect of our lives.

We use it for almost every second thing or activity we do such as looking for information, managing finances, studies, jobs, and more.

Its importance can be extracted from the fact that it has become an essential part of our modern lifestyles.

A brief history of Human computer interface

Go through the history of Human Computer Interface and explore its journey from being a specialty field of study to a multifaceted tech professional’s community.

Since its inception in the 1980s, it has significantly evolved from scientific testing subject to a complex discipline.

Phase 1 – 1980s – 1990s

This phase saw HCI focused on developing systems having an easy-to-use and easy-to-learn aspect.

Despite endless possibilities in personal computing, desktop computers had limited usability at first.

Mental modeling along with human factors engineering stood as the driving factors of software development.

The phase had its emphasis on usability and learning reasons for completing or not completing a task on a computer or device.

However, this phase intended that personal computing s the future.

Phase 2 – the 1900s – early 2000s

In this phase, there was a shift of focus of HCI from cognitive modeling to interaction design.

With computers becoming the communication tool, mental models became unable to explain the broader context of computer use.

Exploring the external influences and understanding the varied interactions across the tools and organizations became necessary.

Moreover, with the growing popularity of emails, people were interacting with each other through computers as well as computers.

This marked the growing interest in the use of a computer with collaboration and communication.

Therefore, it demanded an understanding of the influence of interfaces on human behavior.

Consequently, Human Computer Interface widened its horizons to psychological, social, and anthropological expertise to understand the social components of HCI.

Phase 3 – Mid-2000s – 2010s

This phase was characterized by self-reflection, social consciousness, and self-expression.

This encouraged the thought of the role of technology in daily lives. During the phase, Human Computer Interface developed significantly while penetrating every aspect of human lives which continues to date.

From the beginning till today, Human Computer Interface has significantly evolved and continues to do so.

It provides a fascinating aspect to humans to explore the multiple possibilities it will bring along.

What are the HCI principles?

Several properties and principles are there going into Human Computer Interface design.

However, significant HCI principles are as follows:-


This is considered in terms of design. This indicates the manner in which an object is to be used.

Also, humans should be virtually able to see the object. This denotes the things we perceive or think about often unknowingly.


A user should be able to perceive the time or possibility of the action to be carried out.

The design interface should be in a manner to provide the users with information that follows.

The users should be able to work out the interface without much difficulty. This denotes higher website perceivability.


Coming to HCI design, it is fundamental to give the user feedback.

This ensures a better understanding of the interface, it’s functioning, and performance.


It provides the way in which everything makes sense. Humans have a tendency to create and work patterns in everything we do.

This helps us in ascertaining our next steps to achieve our ultimate objectives. This stands true for interactive products as well.

Every element and aspect must be designed with consistency to ensure the same results.

What is the future of HCI?

The fact that our interaction with a computer has drastically changed over the decade cannot be denied.

Moreover, humans have a lot to think about the tons of new and unique interfaces between machines and humans.

A standard smartphone you have today possesses exceptionally strong computing power when compared to the computer power of NASA in 1969.

With the growing popularity of computing, the role of human-computer interaction has simultaneously increased.

Moreover, HCI plays an important role in application design as well. Also, the future of HCI significantly owes to the pioneers in the past.

Despite the major advancements and modifications, the race in HCI is not over. You can see several programs such as voice.

This paves way for the huge potential for developments in the human computer interface. Here is what the future of HCI holds:-

  • The voice interaction or interface you use today will go way beyond setting appointments or surfing the web. According to certain predictions, speech recognition will have an adoption rate of over 80%. With touch being a significant aspect, the voice will take over better and deeper methods of the device and human interactions.
  • The virtual reality we experience today will be much more advanced in the time to come. This will render several devices and technology obsolete with time. Moreover, this new technology will put forth a new set of human-computer interactions. This will change the way humans have designed user interfaces and interact with computers or machines.
  • With smartwatches, you have hands-on certain unique interactions with technology. Moreover, over time, these devices will be popularized and become widely available and cheaper. This owes to their adaptability alongside the potential for advancement and adaptation. Certain wild speculations forecast that over time, technology might be directly injected into human bodies.

The prospects when talking about the future of the human computer interface can be wild.

All this will lay the building blocks for the future where humans and computers will be closers than they have ever been.

To explore every advancement and modification in HCI, it is important to keep a closer look at the market.

Moreover, these changes never come overnight but in big time. It is time to constantly question yourself the way HCI will revolutionize your way of living in the next one or two decades. This is because it will penetrate your lives as well.

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