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Human-machine interface

Human-machine interface

(also HMI)

Human-machine interface definition

A human-machine interface is an interface that connects a user to a system by visually representing an equipment’s control and monitoring functions.

See also: graphical user interface

Benefits of an HMI

  • User-friendly interaction. An HMI translates complex machine processes into understandable visual representations.
  • Control. Users issue commands directly through the HMI to control the connected system.
  • Monitoring. HMIs display real-time data, helping operators monitor the state and performance of the connected system.
  • Visualization. HMI visualizes a system using buttons, dials, sliders, and other visual aids.

Examples of HMI in action

  • Industrial automation. HMIs let operators manage complex systems from a centralized interface.
  • Healthcare. HMIs of medical devices help healthcare providers monitor patients’ health.
  • Automobiles. Modern vehicles come equipped with sophisticated HMIs that provide drivers with various controls and information at their fingertips.
  • Consumer electronics. HMIs are fundamental to all consumer electronics, from smartphone touchscreens to voice assistants in smart homes.


  • HMI is of a broader scope than GUI (graphical user interface). HMI encompasses all interfaces, graphical or not, that facilitate human-machine interaction.
  • GUI is more common in consumer electronics and general computing, while HMI is frequently used in industrial and manufacturing contexts.
  • A GUI generally focuses on software and graphics design, while an HMI involves a broader range of disciplines, including ergonomics and industrial design.
  • HMI and GUI are developed with a focus on user experience, but HMI tends to focus more on multifaceted user-machine interactions.

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