Human Computer Interaction- Human Evolution

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Research paper submitted by in the Cyberpsychology programme. Dun Laoghaire Institute of Design, Art, Technology. Author: Jeffrey Moran

Q: It is not just Technology which has changed over the past twenty years- the methods we use to interact with it have also altered significantly. Discuss in light of existing research and evidence in Human Computer Interaction.

An Introduction to HCI

Whether its waking up in the morning to our digital radio alarm clocks, travelling to work in a car or train, using a laptop or desktop computer in our work place, or communicating to friends and family through mobile phones, it is safe to say that computer systems are everywhere in today society. Manaris, et al., (2007) state that “Interacting with computers have become an integral part of today’s technology-laden society”. At its core, I believe the work of Human Computer Interaction allows for humans to perform our daily tasks with ease. Just think the un-imaginable for a moment, imagine if all computer systems on the earth stopped functioning at midnight tonight, can you imagine how difficult our daily tasks (like the above list) would become for us all to carry out ? In fact I believe a lot of us (humans) take the technology we use throughout our every day lives for granted.

This forms the basis of my argument, it is certainly fair to suggest that that there has been major advancement in technology over the past twenty years especially in the area of communications. However it is also true to suggest that humans have evolved with technology over the past two decades and have learned key skills that allows technology to become a fundamental part in our everyday lifestyles.

In this essay I firstly outline some clear definitions of HCI. I look at the lessons that the history of HCI can tell us about the emergence of the first modern computer. This leads me to the question has technology vastly changed over the past twenty years or have people changed & evolved the use of technology? I will explore this question by looking at Human centred design and activity centred design. I will point to examples of how people have evolved the use of everyday technology over time. I will then briefly explore the evident gap that exists between traditional computer science and HCI. After considering the background of HCI, I will consider some of key areas that are set to affect the future of Human Computer Interaction. Such areas include the need for universal usability & ubiquitous computing, the growth of mobile communications, & advances in multimodal HCI including bare hand input devices & voice recognition. I will make reference to the various authors that I have come across in my research and will use everyday practical examples to support my arguments. However before I consider the future of HCI it is important to point out the key lessons from the history and background of HCI.

The Foundations of HCI- definitions & lessons from the past

The definitions that most clearly explained the meaning of HCI to me included: “Human Computer interaction is the study of how people design, implement and use interactive computer systems and how computers affect individuals, organisations and society.” Myers, Hollan, Cruz et Al. 1996 HCI can also be explained as “Scientific methods to the study of human use of computers. “ Plaisant and North, 2007.

All aspects of Human computer interaction involve physical input and output actions and tasks. The fundamental task in computer input is to move information from the brain of the user to the computer (Jacob, 1996). Jacob (1996) suggest that to make real progress in HCI the fundamental task is to seek out faster, more convenient ways for a user to transmit information to a computer system. The early signs of HCI can be traced back to mostly military settings in the 19th century. In the Second World War ergonomics (the understanding of human factors of...
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