As a former executive and product manager for end consumer products and technologies, I have planned and conducted extensive primary research on Human-Computer Interfaces (HCI) or Human Machine Interface (HMI). A lot of this research was for the industrial design of consumer products and their mice, keyboards, and even buttons. I conducted other research for software and web properties, too. Research was one input that was mixed with gut instinct and experience which led to final decisions, and in those times and companies for which I worked, were #1 in their markets. Only recently have innovations in HCI come to the forefront of the discussion as the iPhone, iPad and XBOX Kinect have led in HCI and in market leadership. I believe there is a connection between HCI and market leadership which needs more exploration.
For years, the keyboard and mouse dominated in HCI. For the previous deskbound compute paradigm, the keyboard was the best way to input text and perform certain shortcuts. The mouse was the best way to open programs, files and also move objects around the desktop. This metaphor even impacted phones. Early texting was done on 12 keys where users either forced it with one, two, or three strikes of a key to represent a different letter which was then improved with T9 text prediction. Thankfully, Blackberry popularised the QWERTY phone keyboard for much improved texting and of course, mobile email. Nokia smartphones then popularised the “joystick”, which served as a mini omni-directional pointer, once the industry shifted to an iconic, smartphone metaphor.