Professor Chris Baber PhD FBCS FCIEHF

Professor Chris Baber

School of Computer Science
Chair of Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing

Contact details

School of Computer Science
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Chris Baber is Chair of Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing. He joined the University of Birmingham in 1990 and, after working in several Engineering schools, joined the School of Computer Science in 2018. His research concerns human interaction with technology – specifically, in terms of human people form teams with intelligent technology, and in terms of sensor-based human-technology interaction.  He has published over 100 papers in international journals, as well as over 400 conference contributions and half a dozen books.  His research has been funded by the UK Ministry of Defence, RCUK, European Union and various industries. He has supervised around 30 students to the completion of their PhD.


• PhD Human Factors of Speech Technology in 1990
• BA (Psychology / English) in 1987


  • Fellow of the British Computer Society
  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors


Chris graduated from Keele University with a BA (Hons) in Psychology and English Literature. He decided to pursue a PhD and joined Aston University’s Applied Psychology Unit to research speech technology.  He joined the University of Birmingham in 1990 to lecture on the MSc Work Design and Ergonomics programme (initially in the School of Production Engineering before it moved to the School of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering). In 2002 he moved to the School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, partly to continue his research on wearable computers and partly to deliver courses on the MSc Human-Centred Systems. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor before becoming Head of School in 2013. In 2019 he moved to the School of Computer Science, in connection with work on human-machine teaming.


  • Small Embedded Systems (in the School of Engineering)

  • Evaluation Methods and Statistics

Postgraduate supervision

Chris has supervised around 30 students to completion of their PhDs.


His PhD concerned the application of speech technology (still quite a novel thing back in the late 1980s, where he worked with a Marconi Macrospeak speech recogniser, learning the rudiments of Unix to get the thing working), which was part-sponsored by a National electricity distribution company. So, he spent time visiting power stations and distribution centres to get an idea of how people did their work. During his PhD, he became interested in supporting speech recognition for mobile workers – which resulted in a large laptop, running the speech recogniser, in a rucksack, together with GPS antenna, and a small head-mounted, monocular television display, to read the words that had been recognised. Naturally, this led to working on wearable computers. Since then, he has shifted the sensors from the person onto everyday tools and objects in order to study the development and retention of human skill. Related to the wearable computers work, he developed technology for crime scene examination – which led to work on sense-making (that is, how crime scene examiners interpret a crime scene and select evidence), which led to work with Police and Intelligence analysts. This has led to work on how human decision making is supported by Artificial Intelligence, and to the study of human-machine teams. In all of this work, he combines an interest in studying human behaviour ‘in the field’ with the design and making of gadgets to measure or support activity.

Other activities

• Panel Chair for EPSRC and Member of EPSRC College
• External Examiner for Loughborough University


Recent publications


Baber, C, Morar, N & McCabe, F 2019, 'Ecological interface design, the proximity compatibility principle, and automation reliability in road traffic management', IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 241-249.

Attfield, S, Fields, B & Baber, C 2018, 'A resources model for distributed sensemaking', Cognition, Technology and Work, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 651-664.

Starke, S & Baber, C 2018, 'The effect of four user interface concepts on visual scan pattern similarity and information foraging in a complex decision making task', Applied Ergonomics, vol. 70, pp. 6-17.

Baber, C 2018, 'Designing Smart Objects to Support Affording Situations: Exploiting Affordance Through an Understanding of Forms of Engagement', Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 9, 292.

Baber, C, Chemero, T & Hall, J 2017, 'What the Jeweller’s Hand Tells the Jeweller’s Brain: Tool Use, Creativity and Embodied Cognition', Philosophy and Technology.

Baber, C, Russell, M, Wing, A, Hermsdorfer, J & Khattab, A 2017, 'Creating Affording Situations: Coaching through Animate Objects', Sensors, vol. 17, no. 2308, 2308, pp. 1-17.

Godwin, Y, MacDonald, C, Kaur, S, Zhelin, L & Baber, C 2017, 'The impact of cervical musculoskeletal disorders on UK consultant plastic surgeons: can we reduce morbidity with applied ergonomics?', Annals of Plastic Surgery, vol. 78, no. 6, pp. 602-610.

Starke, S & Baber, C 2017, 'Spontaneous bimanual independence during parallel tapping and sawing', PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 5, e0178188.

Starke, S & Baber, C 2017, 'Movements Consistency during Repetitive tool use action', PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 3, e0173281.

Baber, C & Mcmaster, R 2016, 'Macrocognition in Day-To-Day Police Incident Response', Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 7, 293.

Dhukuram, A & Baber, C 2016, 'A Systematic Approach for Developing Decision Aids: From Cognitive Work Analysis to Prototype Design and Development', Systems Engineering, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 79-100.

Baber, C, Attfield, S, Conway, G, Rooney, C & Kodagoda, N 2016, 'Collaborative sense-making during simulated Intelligence Analysis Exercises', International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, vol. 86,, pp. 94-108.

Conference contribution

Baber, C 2018, Thinking with hands, acting with minds: embodied cognition and creative practice. in S Bagnara, R Tartaglia, S Albolino, T Alexander & Y Fujita (eds), Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2018) - Volume VII: Ergonomics in Design, Design for All, Activity Theories for Work Analysis and Design, Affective Design. 1st ed. 2019 edition edn, vol. 8, Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol. 824, Springer Verlag, pp. 225-234, 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, IEA 2018, Florence, Italy, 26/08/18.

Chen, X, Starke, S, Baber, C & Howes, A 2017, A cognitive model of how people make decisions through interaction with visual displays. in Proceedings of the ACM CHI’17 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery , pp. 1205-1216, ACM CHI’17 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Denver, United States, 6/05/17.


Baber, C, Golightly, D & Waterson, P 2019, 'Editorial: the cybernetic return in human factors and ergonomics', Applied Ergonomics, vol. 79, pp. 86-90.

View all publications in research portal