One trick for easing the interface between human and machine is to match the complexity of the part you use to the complexity of the job in hand.
The complex connection between man and machine is the domain of modern industrial control, otherwise known as the science of how to communicate with machines—home of the man-machine interface challenge.
Machine communication input devices are ubiquitous: toggle switches, rotary switches, thumbwheels, slider and rotary potentiometers; simple navigation joysticks, and potentiometer-based joysticks. Buzzers, bells, lights and sounders help us monitor machines with our eyes and ears.
Security has also emerged as a top industrial control design theme. It's a topic that inspired NIST's Guide to Industrial Control Systems Security, a how-to guide to securing industrial control systems. It covers supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, distributed control systems (DCS), and other control system configurations such as programmable logic controllers (PLC).
The NIST document provides an overview of ICS and typical system topologies, and it identifies typical threats and vulnerabilities to these systems and provides recommended security countermeasures to mitigate the associated risks. It's all a matter of good design and developing a thorough understanding of all aspects of the man-machine interface
There are many ways in which humans can tell machines what they want them to do and many ways in which a machine can provide feedback about what they are doing. The trick, according to the paper: Easing the Interface Between Human and Machine, is matching the complexity of the part you use to the complexity of the job in hand.
Welcome to the expanding universe of Internet of Things connectivity. If you're like most engineers, you are forever on the lookout for fresh ideas and smart solutions. You have or are building your library of technical papers, documents, data sheets, products, technologies, standards, and applications for future and handy reference. Smart move.
The IoT library is inspired by my years as a reporter and technology watcher, wherein I love to explore, discover, and now connect readers who face the greatest design challenges of the day with helpful and useful resources. Are you trying to figure out how to deal with Internet of Things challenges like—low-power micro-computing, signal conditioning, wireless communications, sensors, actuator control, more efficient power sources and the man-machine interface? Think of this blog as a design roadmap: as I discover and pass along useful resources, I hope you will find them valuable enough to archive or share.
Most important: It would be great if we could collaborate and expand this ‘roadmap’ into a library resource. To do that, send me (email@example.com) relevant knowledge resources—as links, pdfs, other media formats—that you may have found, so that we can compile and publish them into an easily accessible, open database. That could help your peers.
Switches, for example, seem pretty straightforward, but the switch you use for an emergency machine stop must be specially engineered for high reliability. Rotary switches and thumbwheels enable operators to enter simple discrete machine configurations. Slider and rotary potentiometers enable more nuanced settings. Navigation joysticks can be used to move the point of control around a static user interface while potentiometer-based joysticks can be used in safety-critical situations such as the positioning of the work head in a machine tool.
According to the authors, more complexity does not always mean more utility. They note that a discrete rotary switch that outputs hard-coded hexadecimal numbers will provide a more useful input for some functions than the most sophisticated touchscreen.
--Richard Wallace is a former editor in chief of EE Times. He has followed and reported on electronics, technology and design for 40 years, most recently as an independent journalist, online.