Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a vast and multidisciplinary knowledge area, in which ontologies can be explored as useful tools to deal with semantic and knowledge-related problems.
In HCI, ontologies have usually been developed to solve specific problems, aimed at particular applications, in specific and isolated contexts. This practice tends to limit the conceptualization provided by ontologies and restrict their reuse. Moreover, although the ontologies cover different aspects of HCI, because they are developed in isolation, they contain overlapping concepts and have inconsistencies even in core HCI concepts.
In large and complex domains, as is the case with HCI, ontologies should not be isolated artifacts. On the other hand, representing the knowledge domain as a single ontology results in a large, monolithic ontology that is difficult to build, manipulate, use, and maintain. Considering this issue and our experience in a similar scenario in the Software Engineering domain, we investigate how to develop and organize HCI-related ontologies in an architecture that allows integrating existing ontologies and adding new ones, keeping consistency among them and creating a more comprehensive conceptualization of HCI.
Our proposal consists in organizing HCI ontologies into an ontology network that supports the creation, integration, and evolution of their ontologies. An ontology network is a set of ontologies related to each other through a variety of relationships, such as alignment and dependency. A network ontology, in turn, is an ontology included in such a network, sharing concepts and relationships with other ontologies.
HCI-ON (Human-Computer Interaction Ontology Network) is an ontology network that provides a comprehensive conceptualization of HCI through linked reference ontologies. In addition, it fosters knowledge growth, reuse, and integration through network evolution mechanisms and aims to support interoperability and knowledge-based solutions.
HCI-ON architecture is organized in layers. Briefly, at the bottom lies UFO (Unified Foundational Ontology) to provide the general and common knowledge to classify concepts and relationships in the network. In the center, a core ontology is used to represent the general domain knowledge and is the basis for the domain ontologies in the network. Finally, there are the domain ontologies, which describe more specific knowledge of HCI subdomains. Given the proximity between the HCI and Software Engineering domains, HCI-ON is integrated with SEON (Software Engineering Ontology Network).
Being an ontology network, HCI-ON is like a living organism and is constantly evolving. It requires a continuous, long-term effort, with ontologies being added and integrated incrementally and gradually.
HCI-ON was first introduced in this publication:
HCIO (Human-Computer Interaction Ontology), the HCI-ON core ontology, is presented in this publication:
An application of HCI-ON in the context of HCI design is described in:
An application of HCI-ON to develop an adaptive interface is presented in:
- A. A. C. Freitas, M. B. Scalser, S. D. Costa, and M. P. Barcellos, “Towards an Ontology-based Approach to Develop Software Systems with Adaptive User Interface”, in: Proceedings of the XXI Brazilian Symposium on Human Factors in Computing Systems (IHC 2022), 2022.
HCI-ON is described in detail in:
HCI-ON ontologies that address HCI design aspects are presented in detail in:
Detailed information about HCI-ON is available on the HCI-ON website. On the website, you can find the HCI-ON specification, a description of its architecture, the networked ontologies, the HCI-ON graph, publications, and related works, among others.