Modality (human–computer interaction)

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Not to be confused with Mode (computer interface).

In human–computer interaction, a modality is the general class of:

  • a sense through which the human can receive the output of the computer (for example, vision modality)
  • a sensor or device through which the computer can receive the input from the human

In less formal terms, a modality is a path of communication between the human and the computer.

When multiple modalities are available for some tasks or parts of tasks, the system is said to have overlapping modalities. When multiple modalities are available for all tasks, the system is said to have redundant modalities.

Having too many modalities for a particular task is not a smart idea, however if you do not have enough modalities that will not be good as well.[citation needed]

Computer–human modalities[edit]

Any human sense can be translated to a modality. In practice, the modalities of seeing and hearing are the most commonly employed. The following are modalities through which the computer can send information to the human:

  • Major modalities
  • Haptic modalities
    • Touch, tactile or tactition modality — the sense of pressure
    • Proprioception modality — the perception of body awareness
  • Other modalities
    • Taste or gustation modality
    • Smell or olfaction modality
    • Thermoception modality — the sense of heat and the cold
    • Nociception modality — the perception of pain
    • Equilibrioception modality — the perception of balance

Human–computer modalities[edit]

The computer can be equipped with various types of input devices and sensors to allow it to receive information from the human.

See also[edit]