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What’s The Future Of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)?
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HCI, also known as human-computer interaction, has been a commonly used term since the 1980s. It is the study of communication between people (or users) and computers.
Then, computers were only accessible to highly professional academics (or maybe a couple of wealthy hobbyists). When it was finally made available to the mass public, complex steps to get things done through the computer had to be easy. The interface between users and computers is key to facilitating interaction between these two groups to achieve specific goals.

According to Interaction Design Foundation, HCI is a broad field which overlaps with areas such as user-centred design (UCD), user interface (UI) design and user experience (UX) design. In many ways, HCI was the forerunner to UX design.

Before we get to that, let’s do a quick rundown of the timeline of HCI evolution with the availability of new technologies.
The 1980s — Graphic User Interface (GUI)
Before GUI, there was a command prompt by which commands are sent to the computers. GUI started the graphical interface that is easy to use, understand, and visualise, and it improved the working environment. We bid goodbye to the black screen with white text and quickly moved on to colourful desktop interfaces since then.
The 1990s — Hello, internet and browsers!
Interaction design has become more popular as computers move from simply getting things done as a desktop to becoming a tool for communication via email and websites. Studies were done to make interfaces easier for better communication at this stage. However, designs remained optimised for mouse-click interactions.
The 2000s — Mobile Computing
Yes! Here’s to another leap in HCI from interacting through the desktop to palm-sized devices! Mobile phones, Smart TVs, and other forms of digital devices are so present in our daily lives. Interfaces between users and computers become more important as we continue to be our tool of communication and collaboration in the computing world.
Still in the 2000s — Artificial Intelligence
The rising adoption of AI chatbots on websites and other forms of online communication is shaping how the user interface (UI) in the future should look. Once, we need to memorise specific commands to make the computer run the way we intended it to yet is no longer like that.

The recent COVID-19 has also accelerated the journey of reshaping how interaction should remain accessible in various scenarios.

What will UI be like in the future?
Voice Command
Predictions are that now, 55% of US households will own a smart speaker. More than half of all smart speaker owners use their devices daily. In 2020, 30% of searches took place on voice-enabled devices with no screen.

It is a rather big shift from GUI (Graphic User Interface) to an interface-less world. However, not all information can be presented through voice alone hence we think what’s next would be how devices are paired to complete the user-computer engagement cycle.
Paired Devices
Despite the rise of voice command, vision remains relevant in communication. The visual system constructs a mental representation of the world around us. This contributes to our ability to successfully navigate through physical space and interact with individuals and objects in our environments.

Think about it. It’s hard to order a burger without looking at an impression of the outcome you are expecting. Hence pairing up with a visual-based device remains key in HCI. It may be the TV or a laptop, visual representation of an idea is one good way to align the input and output between humans and computers.
API-first Content
Content and information are no longer in one display format. Also known as headless CMS, it is a method where the content repository “body” is separated or decoupled from the presentation layer “head.” The content is delivered via APIs for seamless display across different devices.

This method is gaining popularity because you never know how content is presented to your users. It can come through via various screen displays, voice or more so instead of confining your content in a static web form, companies are moving towards a more scalable solution, that is, to make them API-ready.

In summary
It is incredibly exciting to see what’s ahead of us. Wearables, Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR) are all opening ways for unimaginable things to hapen with the help of computers.

As we progress towards more user-friendly interactions, designers play a key role in defining how these changes can bring better or worse experience to users in products and services. So, what’s next?
contributor
Joe is the Agency Manager of XIMNET Malaysia since 2018. She is also the UX Lead for an web building platform, XTOPIA.IO.

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