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Human Computer Interaction for the 21st Century

Human Computer Interaction for the 21st Century

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Abstract

This paper looks at the discipline of human computer interaction. It examines the field’s history, and the progress it has made over the years. The paper examines some of the important features of HCI, and the continuous and changing development in the field. HCI has become important as computer systems become a necessity in many areas of professional and social life. The role and function of HCI has continued to increase with the increase in innovation, and with the technological development. It also highlights the influences that HCI has had on different areas and fields of study, and the different disciplines that have contributed to its development. The paper notes the comparison between human computer interaction and management of information studies. There are some similarities as well as some differences in the two disciplines. The paper also looks at the role and function of aesthetics in HCI. The paper discusses some of the markets that have exploited this technology. It notes that there are some potential markets, which designers can exploit.

Human Computer Interaction for the 21st Century

The discipline of human computer interaction has grown rapidly. It has grown steadily from the time of computer development to the present. It is an area of research concerned with people’s use of technology, as it seeks to understand how people use computers and computer devices. It is also concerned with the design and implementation of interactive devices and systems that enhance the users’ performance and his or her experience of using the devices (Karray, Alemzadeh, Saleh & Arab, 2008). The field of human computer interaction incorporates computer science and cognitive psychology. It forms the guidelines necessary for the development of interactive systems, highlights the concerns of the users, and provides the necessary drive needed to improve the current interfaces. As the areas of human interaction with computers increases, so does the need for continuous growth and development of HCI. Human computer interaction ensures that computers do not only perform their functional roles, but that they also user friendly and relevant (Ghaoui, 2006). The discipline of human computer interaction remains relevant as computer systems become a necessity for many people, and as people integrate them in their formal and social lives. .

Initially HCI was concerned with people’s usability of the computer systems. This was when computers were mainly functional and work related. However, as the computer systems increased in diversity and functions, and people began using them in their homes, the role of HCI changed as it became more involved. It now incorporates elements such as fun, aesthetic, creativity, well-being, and flow among other qualities. The field has also diversified in terms of focus, as it moved from focusing on personal applications to include collaborative systems, design, and information systems among other areas. It has grown from being a discipline in different areas of computer systems and technologies, and is now presents in other areas such as information science and information technologies, psychology, system engineering, management information systems and communication among others (Carroll, 2013). This is because of the relevance of computer systems in almost all areas of life.

People have seen the necessity for HCI. They have used it to improve the lives of different people in different sectors and capacities. HCI has enabled those who are disadvantaged such as the physically impaired and the elderly to use different computer systems, something that would not have been possible before its development. In addition, many people have seen the need to incorporate HCI in different sectors such as learning and education, health, commerce and business, and community support among other areas. In addition, the number of people concerned with HCI has increased and diversified. HCI is no longer a single course for professionals specialized in that field, but it has incorporated professionals from other disciplines (Carroll, 2013). The study of human computer interaction has developed from focusing on desktop computers, to focusing on the increased list of technological devices including smartphones, tablets, and other portable computer system devices (Lazar, Feng & Hochheiser 2010). As the development of HCI increases and becomes more intense, there is need to find different ways of applying it in all areas of human life.

There are several factors to consider when designing and implementing human computer interaction. The most fundamental is the fact that the designer has to know the user. For human computer interaction to fulfill its objective, one has to have a clear idea of the user. He or she has to know how the system will benefit the user, and if it will cater to all the users needs. Such knowledge enhances the relevance and importance of the human computer interaction. Some systems specifically target some groups, for instance, those who are physically impaired. While some computers serve multipurpose functions, others are for individual use, and the two systems interact differently with the users. This requires the designers to know the exact interface to use to design the systems (Doyle, 2000). It is also important to consider the tasks that the system will accomplish. This is because some tasks are more involving and complex than others are.

The different task levels require different interaction designs. It is also important to consider the interaction style, as this will determine the appearance and usability ease of the interface. Depending on the user’s interaction style, some computer systems may require more visual representation compared to others, while others may only require labeled entry fields. Irrespective of the requirement needs of the system, the user should be able to interact with the computer system easily. Other salient features of the technology include prevention of errors, consistency, availability of feedback, and reduction of short-term memory load (Gross et al. 2009). Good and effective human computer interaction should be designed in such a way that they are simple to use, and they provide feedback. An effective HCI design ensures an increase in the users’ productivity, enhances the users’ satisfaction, and reduces costs.

Human computer interaction focuses on what people can do with computer systems. Therefore, research in this area consists of knowing the different capabilities of people. This involves conducting research on how people think, study, and communicates. It is also concerned with studying how different objects already in existence serve people’s needs. Therefore, HCI uses research methodologies in the social sciences, as these are concerned with learning more about people. The researchers and designers involved with HCI have to determine the relevance of computer systems to the people. Research in the field of HCI has developed from being an area concerned with usability and performance, to examining different consequences of HCI in diverse areas of life. Such consequences include the health effects of the computer systems on the user. Researchers have noted that frequent and continuous use of computer systems affects people’s health in different ways. It causes problems that might affect the user’s health significantly. For instance, some users become frustrated when using the systems and this can lead to multiple health issues including stress. Therefore, researchers in HCI have identified the need to study the effect of computer systems on the quality of life.

Another new and developing research area in HCI involves developing sustainable interaction design. This has developed because of increased awareness of the effect of different human activities and the environment. This has encouraged the use of systems that lead to more efficient energy use of the systems. Computer systems use a lot of energy, and this has significant consequences on the environment. It has also lead to increased awareness of the need to repair computer systems as opposed to throwing the systems away. This discourages technological waste on the environment. Technological waste is a huge environmental concern, because of the landfills and the land and water pollution it causes (Lazar, Feng & Hochheiser 2010).

Human computer interaction and management of information systems (MIS) are two related fields. While HCI seeks to understand the usability of information technology and computer systems, MIS is concerned with the perception and attitude of the user on information technology. Both technologies are concerned with people’s use of computer systems and related technologies. There are many research and study aspects involving the use of technology in the organization, and the influence or impact that technology has on the users (Zhang & Dillon 2003). Both technologies realize that computer systems have a fundamental impact on people. They both develop and become complex, as technology develops both fields depend on the use of social sciences including psychology and sociology, to get a clearer understanding of people.

MIS examines different systems of technology including the hardware and software, social systems such as economies, people and culture, as well as the interaction between the social and technology systems. However, MIS is more concerned with business and organizational issues. It seeks to understand how people can use computer systems in their workplaces, to improve productivity within the work environment, and to counter people’s opposition and rejection of technology. MIS is concerned with the organizational data flows, and developing the necessary methods of technology to take advantage of the existing potential to serve the needs of the organization. HCI on the other hand designs the tools needed to manipulate intended to maximize the use of information (Zhang & Galletta 2009.

As more people continue using computer systems outside of the workplace, the need for diversified designs has increased. People are no longer interested in how functional a computer is, but they are also concerned about its appearance. Aesthetics apply in different areas in HCI. These areas include areas such as the attractiveness, appearance, and feel of the system’s interface, the system design, and the experience of the user (Jacko 2009). Researchers in human computer interaction have identified two types of aesthetics. Classical aesthetics deals with ensuring that the systems are orderly, and that they have a clear design. This is the traditional idea of aesthetics in terms of ideas concerning design appearances of computer systems.

Expressive aesthetics on the other hand requires that the designers apply creativity and originality towards their work. This includes adding features and customizing the systems using methods that designers did not think about previously. Many people are comfortable with cultural aesthetics since they are the design standards. Expressive aesthetics on the other hand depend on preferences and culture. HCI specialists may not know much about aesthetics, and they require the input of individuals from different professions. Design of artifact devices requires the use of people who have specialized in art. The issue of aesthetics in HCI is important because it benefits the users in different ways. Expressive aesthetics ensure that the systems are more appealing, thereby attracting more people (Jacko 2009).

HCI has an important role in ensuring that people are able to use the emerging computer systems and innovation technologies. It does this by identifying the barriers that people encounter when using computer systems (Miesenberger et al. 2008). Some developers have enhanced their systems and they now have so many features that some of the users find it hard to use (Atakan, 2006). HCI recognizes the importance of culture in computer systems. Although people use similar technologies worldwide, the designers have come up with ways of designing and developing the systems in a way that people from different cultures can use them. The users use the system in a cultural context. Culture influences the appearance and feel of an interactive system. Understanding this has led to the development of interactive systems with the needs of the user in mind. The elderly and the physically impaired no longer have to face multiple barriers when trying to use interactive systems. Designers have identified ways that they can design the interactive systems to incorporate the special needs of the users. They have ensured that these users have an enjoyable experience when using the systems, while at the same time ensuring that the interactive systems are designed in such a way that they have the same level of performance as the other systems (Miesenberger et al. 2008).

There is a great future in the field of HCI because of continued innovation and use of technology. Many people will find the desire and need to learn more about human computer interaction, as automation and technology continues to develop (Macias, Granollers & Latorre, 2009). One of the areas where HCI will be of most significance is communication. Many HCI researchers have already explored this area, and they have made some notable progress in it. Because of this, they have identified ways that people can communicate using computer system. They have come up with various ways of enhancing communication, and ensuring that communication becomes more effective. However, some challenges continue facing researchers and designers, in identifying ways that the machines will be able to understand humans more effectively. Human to human communication is different since it does not only depend on speech alone, but it also depends on factors such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, and other forms of body language (Dias, Gibet, Wanderley & Bastos 2009).

The future of human computer interaction is to enable computer systems to reach such a level of communication, as this will enhance communication between the users and the systems. This will involve researching different areas of human communication, including the mind. Despite the levels of advanced technologies, computers are not yet in such a position where they can be able to read the users minds and determine what the user wants to do. They are not in a position where they can determine the user’s emotions and feelings, and use them to provide the necessary feedback. This is an interesting area for human computer interaction. It can have significant and useful impact in different areas such as health and learning. In the health sector, it can determine how a sick and paralyzed person can use the computer systems to communicate and express himself better (University of Cambridge 2011).

In conclusion, HCI has become an essential area in life and society. Its significance towards developing computer systems that are not only functional but also user friendly cannot be understated. Designers have realized the importance of having a clear understanding of culture and the importance of aesthetics when designing computer systems. This has made computer systems more accessible to people. Computer systems have become more of a necessity in different areas of life. Therefore, HCI has progressed in the areas of study and in the number of people from different professions who are taking a keener interest in HCI. There is a bright future for HCI. The field will continue developing and becoming more complex with the innovation of different technologies in the years to come.

References

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