10 Biggest Challenges of Human Computer Interaction for Mobile

Mobile human computer interaction is one of the biggest barriers in practical technology today. Due to the limited size of mobile devices and the limited ways they may be implemented unobtrusively, the challenges to the interaction have resulted in some interface choices that turn a lot of people off from using them.

These challenges are not obvious to some users, so it is important that we stop and look at the 10 greatest challenges to mobile human computer interaction, and how they affect how mobile devices presently work. The goal of this is to outline to users why mobile works somewhat awkwardly for the moment, and also to give aspiring designers a clear look at challenges they may hopefully overcome in future generations.


#1 – Battery Life
Battery life is a problem, though it’s one that’s been reduced with better batteries and easier ways to recharge them in recent times. However, since the modern purpose of mobile devices is a portable internet portal, battery life greatly limits what humans may do with their mobile devices. The problem is that things like GPS, 3G or 4G and WiFi connections are very draining of battery life, due to their signals being energy heavy. This limits the amount of tasks a user can perform via bandwidth usage over a mobile device. This will only improve as power sources do, so there’ll probably be a final limit to what can be done, for the current age of our history.

#2 – Screen Real Estate
Screen real estate on mobile devices has improved significantly in the last five years, but still leaves much to be desired versus less-than-mobile tablets, or PC interfaces. As a result, applications have limited space to work with, so limited GUI components, tasks or information can be available at any given time.
This also makes interacting with the neededly-smaller components a bit more difficult as well.

#3 – Resolution
Resolution is a problem that works in tandem with real estate. The thing is, it’s a rock and a hard place. Low resolutions are easier to see and make out, but take far less advantage of the limited screen real estate mobile devices have available. On the other hand, higher resolutions make everything smaller and harder to read, resulting in the same issue in the other extreme. The solution for this is not yet apparent, but some prototype technologies such as foldable screens and similar innovations may soon resolve it.

#4 – Computing Power
Computing power limits the number of simultaneous tasks or the speed at which they may be performed. Mobile devices, due to the previously mentioned battery life, have a limit to how powerful their processors may be. They also have heat concerns, as the harder and faster a processor works, the hotter they become. Due to the compact nature of mobile devices, this heat is impossible to handle with traditional cooling systems such as fans or thermal sinks of significant size. Speaking of compact limitations …

#5 – Compact Design
Compact design is what makes mobiles what they are, but it is also a hindrance to mobile human computer interaction. This really contributes to all of the problems mentioned thus far, such as resolutions in tandem with screen real estate, power issues, and limited CPU power available. Mobile devices must not be immensely heavy or large, so this puts a major limit on these things.

#6 – Not Enough Buttons
Following the previously mentioned compact design, a limit to actual buttons results in touch screens being necessary for a lot of functions. This is something that a lot of people don’t like, due to the lack of tactile feedback it provides. This has been abated in recent times to some extent by slide-out keyboards, but it’s a problem that’s not soon going to resolve, unless touch technology manages tactile feedback somehow.

#7 – Hand occupation
A mobile device is handheld, which means that one hand must be occupied in holding the thing at all times. This is a problem because it limits the user to working with one hand while using the device. This makes it like being a one-handed user, which is slow and awkward. There’s no real solution for this.

#8 – Typing? What’s That?
Considering the compactness of mobile keyboards and the awfulness of touch screen keys, typing anything useful on a mobile device is often pretty awful, making getting any real writing done with them impractical. Voice dictation on mobiles is often unwise due to the public nature of their use, so the only real solution is going to be keyboards that slide out, and then unfold, perhaps.

#9 – Audio
Audio on mobiles is often an issue, as the need for headphones makes interacting with audio cues rather difficult in some social situations. It is considered rude, or even dangerous in some cases, to have headphones on. This means that the only solution is to turn on the external speaker. These external speakers sound awful, and disrupt people around the user. A better solution for this is probably never going to happen, so this will forever be an issue.

#10 – Lighting
Lighting is an issue in three ways. First, backlights contribute to the power issue, and in some situations can disrupt people around the user, if used in a dark room. Another problem is that without a backlight, poor lighting in the environment can result in the screen being nigh impossible to make out. Also, glare is an issue that almost all mobile devices have, and anti-glare screen protectors contribute to what the backlight must account for. This is another one with no obvious future solution. These are the top ten obstacles for mobile human computer interaction, and some of them show promise to resolution, but others will be a problem for generations to come.

It is integral that you choose tools that react according to each individual user’s needs and circumstances. We recommend that you learn about a new tool, which provides real-time contextual guidance.