Humanizing the Machine Conference Paper uri icon


  • Springer International Publishing AG 2017. This paper discusses the problem associated with sophisticated computer controlled machines that achieve 100% accuracy in the lab and far less accuracy in the field because they are typically operated by unskilled, illiterate, or a non-native speaking person. A particular case study is described, in which the typical LCD screen with cryptic messages showing the status of the machine or the steps necessary to complete the task at hand often left the operators guessing the next step, which led to incorrect inputs, resulting in incorrect outputs. These machines are capable of doing the work of several people with high levels of accuracy if the machine is operated by someone of sufficient skill in reading and understand the machines interface. The typical operator often lacks the skill in reading or understanding to produce the accuracy or output desired by the machines owner. Adding languages or making less cryptic messages appear on the machines interface is not solving the inaccuracies seen when the machine is operated by the unskilled worker. This problem can be solved with simple visual cues that quickly inform the operator the status of the machine and then the machines expectation of the operators input. With these simple changes to the Human Computer Interface (HCI), the operator quickly, without guessing, knows if the machine is operating correctly and if their inputs are correct. To improve the accuracy, two sets of lights were added; the first set of lights showed the status of the machine itself, quickly informing the operator if the control circuits of the machine were operational and if the additional physical requirements of the machine were met, e.g. compressed air, three phase power, chilled water, etc. The second set of lights communicated to the operator the status of their operations, i.e. scan accepted, load item, item accepted, or operation stopped due to error. With the addition of two sets of status lights and two audio signals, our change to the HCI allowed the same accuracy in the field that were produced in the design and testing labs. Users of any skill level were now able to know immediately if the machine was up, ready, and if their inputs were accepted and correct.

name of conference

  • HCI International 2017 Posters' Extended Abstracts

published proceedings

  • Communications in Computer and Information Science

author list (cited authors)

  • Lightfoot, R., Gooch, B., & Fowler, R. M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Lightfoot, Robert||Gooch, Bruce||Fowler, Robert Michael

editor list (cited editors)

  • Stephanidis, C.

publication date

  • January 2017