Graphical User Interface (GUI)
“GUI” Graphical User Interface, “UID” User Interface Design or “human machine interface (HMI)” on electric/electronic products. All other “human machine interfaces” are classified as ‘ergonomics development’ to the greatest extent possible. Such an interface has many manifestations – from push-buttons, controllers, and simple, monochrome displays to modern, capacitive touchscreens.
In 1998, we started facing this challenge and developed an interface on a machine for laboratory automation. It had a color display and a keyboard with a mouse. We created an animated presentation of machine sequences, which allowed the user to access processes in the machine intuitively.
User Interface Design (UID): Task of an industrial designer
We are generally not of the opinion that this is a different or even new specialist discipline. Back then, when there were no displays yet, the development of user interface design was an essential and natural part of industrial design. Just think of the excellent designs of Braun hi-fi devices with countless push-buttons, controllers and buttons. If you add a display, the approach in development largely remains the same, albeit much more complex with regard to elaborate touchscreen applications. In medical design technology (MDT), in which new developments are known to be introduced at a much slower pace than in the consumer market, the spread of capacitive touchscreens is a relatively recent development. For a long time, these were pressure-sensitive and often combined with membrane keyboards – the latter were mainly preferred over physical buttons and controllers for hygiene reasons.
Of course, the main requirement for a Graphical User Interface Design/User Interface in medical design technology (MDT) is the intuitive and, most importantly, flawless and safe usability of a product. However, this may have completely different manifestations depending on the user group in a hospital, laboratory or end user. The first questions are which products they use in everyday life, how often they use a product, how long they use it and how much of the product’s functionality they use. In this respect, a close look at the user is an essential requirement for traditional ergonomics development and a well-designed interface.
Developing process only with users
Our development process starts with interviews and observations of users. We then document and process the results. Depending on the state of technological development, there are different ways for this, from basic studies on questions of operation with which technologies and combinations of technologies (buttons, display, touchscreen, etc.) to scenarios for possible operational processes in work-flow charts. Involving users is also essential for further development. The interfaces are tested with them in iterative steps. In this process, we usually work with professional user test studios – not least in order to satisfy international requirements. We not only provide operating sequences but also the ‘visual design.’ To which extent animations are to be created for tests is determined by the scenario required. The development of icons plays a special role in this as they must satisfy standard requirements on the one hand, and they must also formally match the visual design of the software on the other hand. For further definitions of the Graphical User Interface Design (GUI)/User Interface Design (UID) in product development, we deliver the data requested by the software programmers, whether final designs for membrane keyboards, screen measurements or export of data as, for instance, .pngs.
Graphical User Interfaces in medical design technology (mdt)
GUI in medical technology
In the years after 1998, we thus developed and designed all kinds of user interface designs and graphical user interfaces in numerous projects. The range extends from largely hardware-based UI’s, e.g. on blood glucose meters, to very complex touchscreen applications for laboratory automation or dialysis. Formally the field likewise covers applications that have more consumer-oriented focus, e.g. blood pressure meters as well as applications for specialists, such as an OR microscope or a heart-lung machine. The fact that we regularly provide very innovative developments in laboratory and medical design technology (mdt) is not least due to our global specialization. This spectrum ranges from a successful use of an HF generator which is completely based on a capacitive touchscreen to IPad-based OR control software for surgical tables, OR lighting, room lighting, music, telephones, etc. The extent of such Graphical User Interface/User Interface developments generates around 35% of total turnover of Held+Team.