• Tanya Vig

A step closer to CyberTrons or Social Good?

From the very beginning, the essence of computer science has been to reproduce the functioning of the human mind. This approach to the computer sciences can be witnessed not only in fields like Neuro-Linguistic Programming but also in like Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Brain-Computer Interface (BCI). These fields consistently rely on psychological research and use research methods developed by psychologists to make the user experience simple and friendly.


As can be observed from the above graphic, any remotely normal person would be delighted with the website graphic on the right. In some cases, corporate websites are designed in manners that would indulge you in enrolling in the newsletter even if you do not intend to. This, obviously takes into account the psychology behind how we perceive different texts and images. Human-Computer Interaction is a multidisciplinary field of study focusing on the design of computer technology and, in particular, the interaction between humans (the users) and computers. Human beings have certain capabilities and limitations which affect the way we use an interface. For example, our response to text-based hyperlinks differs significantly from our response to minimalist button-based hyper-links. Psychology takes this into account and thus helps us to make effective interfaces. For example, we are more comfortable in using words than symbols. So, our brain can process words more quickly than images. So, words are better used than icons in many places. HCI was popularized by Stuart K. Card, Allen Newell, and Thomas P. Moran in their seminal 1983 book, The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction, although the authors first used the term in 1980.

It no longer makes sense to regard HCI as a specialty of computer science; HCI has grown to be broader, larger and much more diverse than computer science itself. HCI expanded from its initial focus on individual and generic user behavior to include social and organizational computing, accessibility for the elderly, the cognitively and physically impaired, and for all people, and for the widest possible spectrum of human experiences and activities.

- John M. Carroll



BCIs or Brain-Computer Interfaces are pathways that receive brain signals, analyze them, and convert them into the desired output, all without using the pre-built neuro-muscular mechanisms in a human's body. They have the potential for helping individuals with severe communication and control problems due to disability or extreme circumstances, as well as giving anybody who requires or desires non-traditional human-to-system communication tools and additional input/output channels.


Until recently, the dream of being able to control one's environment through thoughts had been in the realm of science fiction. However, the advance of technology has brought a new reality

- Jerry J Shih, Dean J. Krusiensky and Jonathan R. Walpaw



Companies, like Cognixion, through their inventive technology, allow differentially abled people to use their brain waves to control objects around them in the real and digital world. It is like a virtual mouse reading brain signals and taking decisions accordingly. Speakprose, an app by Cognixion, is empowering thousands of individuals with disabilities – as well as their clinical partners in speech and behavioral therapy to accelerate social engagement with 10x faster communication. Typical users include children, teens, and adults with autism, down syndrome, strokes, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, and early-stage ALS. The fields have come a long way since the 1980s — evolving from a single focus on scientific testing to the complex role of explaining and generating new designs.


Today we look to HCI and BCI for self-expression and seeking solutions to society’s most wicked problems. And as Cliff Kaung said “whether we’re communicating with a human or a machine, the goal is to create a shared understanding of the world. That’s the point behind both the rules governing polite conversation and how a user-friendly machine should work.

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