Summer project on laughing virtual agents

Posted on Wed 02 May 2012by by Stéphane Dupont


Laughing virtual agents will be high on the agenda of interaction research this summer, with a project on designing a "laugh machine" to be developed at the 2012 edition of eNTERFACE summer workshops (July 2-27, 2012, Metz, France). The plan is to put together a first prototype virtual interactive buddy that will share fun with you, in particular while watching funny video clips and situations. Research will focus on how to make sense in real-time of context from the videos, and of emotional reactions from the person watching them, in order to produce more natural behavior.

The integrated system will serve as a platform to experiment on important features, to make sure that the agent's laughs are not misperceived by the user (e.g., malicious or malevolent laughs) and paying attention to the "uncanny valley": the discomfort caused by an automated agent that reproduces very closely, but imperfectly (e.g. bad timing, disproportionate response), human behaviours.

The work is supported by the ILHAIRE project. The project partners will provide the core components of the system, but are also looking forward to meet with other participants that may provide additional components that could be integrated during the workshop, or wish to experiments with laughter-enabled virtual agents.


eNTERFACE is a yearly summer school on Multimodal Interfaces. The first edition was held at the University of Mons (Belgium) in 2005. Since then, it was hosted in Dubrovnik (Croatia), Istanbul (Turkey), Paris (France), Genoa (Italy), Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Plzen (Czech Republic). Each edition gathers 50 to 100 participants working on around 10 different projects. The workshop lasts 4 weeks, which enables fruitful collaboration between the teams: researchers do not attend eNTERFACE only to present their work and learn about others' but to carry out multimodal projects. Deliverables (experimental results, software, etc. ) are expected at the end of the workshop. eNTERFACE projects outcomes are reported in the workshop proceedings and frequently lead to conference or journal papers. The 2012 edition of the workshop will be organized by SUPELEC in Metz (France) from July 2nd to July 27th.

The ILHAIRE project was indeed born at eNTERFACE'09 in Genoa: the successful collaboration between UMONS, CNRS and UAU on the AVLaughterCycle project fostered our interest in working together on laughter and extending the scope of our works in a larger project gathering experts in several disciplines related to laughter processing. A few years later, the ILHAIRE project was born.


Stéphane Dupont