What Is an Interaction Technique?

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  • Written By: L.S. Ware
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2018
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Interaction technique is used in human-computer interaction (HCI) and interaction design to develop a process to consolidate a number of steps into a single task, thereby improving the user-device experience. There are several two-dimensional (2D) interaction techniques, and three-dimensional (3D) interaction techniques also have been developed. All techniques involve a melding of multiple inputs and outputs, from both hardware and software, that results in a user-friendly interaction with the computer.

Hardware input devices can include things such as keyboards, pointing devices, cameras, joysticks or touch screens. Some software examples include touch or pressure sensing, speech recognition and motion tracking. The output side can have as many items as the input side and will often include duplicates. Monitors, speakers and talking dolls are just a few samples of output-related devices.

HCI designers work to build a simple protocol that includes all of the relevant elements. The interaction technique used to build this protocol varies by application and designer. Several primary categories of interaction technique have emerged, including the use of command languages and function keys.

Beyond these are the more complicated techniques that require a larger group of sub-tasks to be performed. Menus are perhaps the most common interaction technique. Nearly every website has at least one example of this in a nested or drop-down menu bar. One of the most plainly visible techniques is direct manipulation, such as a scroll bar.


Form filling, in which a user has options to choose before completing the task, and pointing techniques that employ special cursors are two others. Many mobile devices contain a motion-detection technology, which is an interaction technique used in games and applications. Console gaming systems also utilize a motion detection technique.

Three-dimensional interaction techniques allow a user to have a natural interaction in a virtual environment. The development of 3D technology has expanded dramatically, and great steps have been taken toward streamlining and smoothing out the experience with 3D and virtual reality. This is a long way from the days when HCI and interaction technique was focused mainly on productivity applications such as word processors and spreadsheets.

Since the development of the personal computer, interaction technique has expanded from the simple focus on user productivity. Military systems, e-commerce, games and more all use interaction technique. It is not just for the individual user anymore but for all persons. It is not limited to simple graphical interfaces but many devices and technologies.


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