Special Issue on Human Interface
Masanori Idesawa, Editor
Senior ResearcherInformation Science Laboratory, RIKEN(The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research), 2-1, Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351, Japan
In recent years, the expression “human interface” is often heard. Now that information systems have been ingrained deeply in the society, it is no longer possible to ignore the existence of information systems even though in man-to-man communications. The expression “human interface” may be considered to encompass not only the conventional man-machine interfaces related to communication between man and machine but also the promotion and harmonization of communication between people, between societies and people, and even between different cultures and between different languages. It also gives the impression that it is trying to come closer to the human side. On the other hand, “human” can be read in the Japanese Romanize language as “human” which phonetically means “dissatisfaction.” Thus the human interface may ironically be called the “dissatisfied” interface. The conventional “man-machine interface,” namely the interface between “man” and “machine,” tended to favor the efficiency of the machine and often attempted to push men closer to the side of the machine, that is, to force the burden on the men. This is precisely the “dissatisfied” interface itself. It is no exaggeration to say that whether the human interface is considered truly to be human or not will depend upon the effort to eliminate this dissatisfaction and make the interface pleasant to the human beings. Fortunately, study and research efforts have been made, in recent years, more on interfaces emphasizing the human side than on the conventional man-machine interfaces. In particular, the importance of welfare systems for conquering the physical trouble of men have been recognized and their developmental work is attempted at various research centers. Moreover, research efforts are also being directed towards not only the passive attempt to conquer men’s physical trouble but also the active attempt to draw out hidden capabilities of men. In addition, the recent years have seen a great deal of developmental work on information presenting systems which make full use of information perceiving capabilities by human senses such as artificial reality system or virtual reality system. The application of such systems as a new means of communication is awaited in expec tation. To be more precise, these systems are utilized for facilitating such tasks as, for example, the tele-existence in which work at a remote place is carried out at a near place after the environment at the remote place has been transferred to the near place, operations involing the joining of capillary vessels under microscopes, operations at the molecular levels in micro-environments under electron microscopes, and tasks in gigantic environments like assembly of cosmic structures, after achieving the imaginary creation of working conditions similar to normal conditions in the normal environment to which abnormal envirnments have been transferred. In order to succeed in these attempts, it is important to have environment transforming technology, environment transferring technology, and environment presenting technology. To realize these technologies, the maximal consideration of the characteristics of men is indispensable. In such human interface, it is desirable to develop means of transmitting the intentions of men accurately and presenting these intentions effectively so that men can easily recognize, understand, and judge them. Moreover, in view of the fact that it is important in facilitating tasks to react to actions of men, that is, to have the existence of reactions, it is desirable to develop means of presentation including reactions, operation, instruction, and inputting. In addition, it is important to have still deeper understandings of the characteristics of men and develop instructive techniques and presentation techniques appropriate to the characteristics of men, if more effective presentation to the men is to be achieved and the instructions from men to systems facilitated. Research on the functions and characteristics of men themselves such as human sensory functions, brain functions, and psychological characteristics has now become important. Although the trends of the human interface are not yet clear, this special issue has taken up various topics related to this subject cross-sectionally, although it may be judged somewhat biased. It is our hope that this issue will provide some help in seeking the developmental direction of the human interface in the future.