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Completed research project

Title / Titel Incorporating laughter into human-avatar interactions: Research and evaluation (ILHAIRE)
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung Laughter is a significant feature of human communication, and machines acting in roles like companions or tutors should not be blind to it. So far very limited progress has been made towards allowing computer-based applications to deal with laughter. ILHAIRE will lay the foundations of truly multimodal, multicultural laughter-enabled man-machine interaction, by associating experts of the different disciplines linked to this objective. This research initiative incorporates eight teams from six European countries among them two groups representing psychology. UZH research team will contribute to following tasks:

Task 1.Identify material that induces various types of hilarious laughter [QUB + UMONS +UZH]

Task 2. Assemble existing resources containing audiovisual records of (mainly conversational) laughter [QUB + UZH]

Task 3. Create and annotate initial database representing everyday occurrence of types of (mainly conversational) laughter and related user behaviour [QUB + CNRS + UZH +UMONS]

Task 4. Laughter facial action units [CNRS + UZH]: Similarly to the phonetic analysis of laughter, this task will consist in two steps. First, laugh clips will be manually annotated in FACS by at least one certified FACS-coder. For the different types of laughs, FACS codes will be generated in terms of what AUs are involved, their symmetry, intensity, time course and duration.

Task 5. Psychologically appropriate indicators of responses to laughter stimuli [QUB + UCL + UZH]

Furthermore, the UZH research team will be primarily responsible for the following tasks:

Task 6. Indicators of friendliness and hostility in different avatar laughter [UZH]:
Different avatar laughter samples will be rated by a sample of gelotophobic and non-gelotophobic individuals for the degree of friendliness (is this “laughing with”?), hostility (is this “laughing at”?) and contagiousness.

Task 7. Gelotophobia and the perception of avatar laughter [UZH]

The psychological research questions will by adressed utilizing experiments that also involve quasi-experimental (personality factors) and tools assessing subjective and facial (FACS; Facial Action Coding System) components of emotion. This research is conducted by members of ZIEL (Zurich Interaction and Expression Laboratory) and involves a position as a doctorate.

The ILHAIRE project was accepted to exhibit the most significant findings at the ICT’13 event in Vilnius ( In the category culture, science and creativity, Tracey Platt and Jenny Hofmann will represent the UZH team lead by Willibald Ruch by presenting findings on the first large-scale evaluation of a laughing ECA and first steps in the identification of laughter features at different stages of intensity in face, voice, and body.
Weitere Informationen
Publications / Publikationen Hofmann, J., Platt, T., Ruch, W., Niewiadomski, R., & Urbain, J. (in press). The influence of a virtual companion on amusement when watching funny films. Motivation and Emotion.

Hofmann, J., Ruch, W., & Platt, T. (2012). The en- and decoding of schadenfreude laughter. Sheer joy expressed by a Duchenne laugh or emotional blend with a distinct morphological expression? Interdisciplinary Workshop on Laughter and other Non-Verbal Vocalisations in Speech Proceedings, Dublin, Ireland, 26-27 of October, 8-10.

Mancini, M., Hofmann, J., Volpe, G., Varni, G., Platt, T., Glowinski, D., Ruch, W., & Camurri, A. (accepted). Towards automated full body detection of laughter driven by human expert annotation. 5th International Workshop on Affective Interaction in Natural Environments (AFFINE).

McKeown, G., Cowie, R., Curran, W., Ruch, W., & Douglas-Cowie, E. (2012). ILHAIRE Laughter Database. 4th International Workshop on Emotion Sentiment & Social Signals (ES³ 2012) - Corpora for Research on Emotion, Sentiment & Social Signals, held in conjunction with LREC 2012, ELRA, Istanbul, Turkey, pp. 32–35.

Niewiadomski, R., Pammi, S., Sharma, A., Hofmann, J., Platt, T., Cruz, R.T., Qu, B. (2012). Visual laughter synthesis: Initial approaches. Interdisciplinary Workshop on Laughter and other Non-Verbal Vocalisations in Speech Proceedings, Dublin, Ireland, 26-27 of October, 10-12.

Niewiadomski, R., Hofmann, J., Urbain, J., Platt, T., Wagner, J., Piot, B., Cakmak, H., Pammi, S., Baur, T., Dupont, S., Geist, M., Lingenfelser, F., McKeown, G., Pietquin, O., & Ruch, W. (2013). Laugh-aware virtual agent and its impact on user amusement. In T. Ito, C. Jonker, M. Gini, and O. Shehory (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2013). May, 6–10, 2013, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA.

Platt, T., Hofmann, J., Ruch, W., Niewiadomski, R., & Urbain, J. (2012). Experimental standards in research on AI and humor when considering psychology. Fall Symposium on Artificial Intelligence of Humor Proceedings, Washington, USA, 2-4 of November, 54-61.

Ruch, W. (2012). Towards a New Structural Model of the Sense of Humor: Preliminary Findings. AAI Symposium on Artificial Intelligence of Humor Proceedings, Washington, USA, 2-4 of November.

Ruch, W., & Hofmann, J. (2012). A temperament approach to humor. In P. Gremigni (Ed.), Humor and Health Promotion (pp. 79-113). Hauppauge, NY USA: Nova Science Publishers.

Ruch, W., Hofmann, J., & Platt, T. (2013). Investigating facial features of four types of laughter in historic illustrations. European Journal of Humor Research, 1, 98-118.

Ruch, W., Hofmann, J., Platt, T., & Proyer, R. T. (2013). The state-of-the art in gelotophobia research: A review and some theoretical extensions. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research. doi:10.1515/humor- 2013-0046.

Ruch, W., Platt, T., Hofmann, J., Niewiadomski, R., Urbain, J., Mancini, M., & Dupont, S. (2014). Gelotophobia and the challenges of implementing laughter into virtual agents interactions. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 928. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00928

Urbain, J., Niewiadomski, R., Hofmann, J., Bantegnie, E., Baur, T., Berthouze, N., Cakmak, H., Cruz, R. T., Dupont, S., Geist, M., Griffin, H., Lingenfelser, F., Mancini, M., Miranda, M., McKeown, G., Pammi, S., Pietquin, O., Piot, B., Platt, T., Ruch, W., Sharma, A., Volpe, G., & Wagner, J. (2013). Laugh Machine. Proceedings eNTERFACE’12. The 8th International Summer Workshop on Multimodal Interfaces, 2nd – 27th of July 2012 (pp. 13-34). Metz, France: Supélec.

Technical reports

Curran, W., McKeown, G., Cowie, R., Storey, L., Ruch, W., Platt, T., Hofmann, J., Pammi, S., Chollet, G., Wagner, J., & Andre, E. (2012). ILHAIRE D1.1: Laying the groundwork for database collection. The ILHAIRE Project, Tech. Rep. Available:

Hofmann, J., Ruch, W., & Platt, T. (2014). ILHAIRE D5.4: Identification of the features making laughers being perceived as friendly or hostile and beyond. The ILHAIRE Project, Tech. Rep. Available:

Hofmann, J., Ruch, W., Vuori, A., & Platt, T. (2012). Stärken der Pfadi. Der Beitrag von Schweizer Jugendverbänden zum guten Leben und guten Charakter bei Kindern und Jugendlichen. Ergebnisbericht der ersten online Erhebung. Internal Report, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Hofmann, J., Ruch, W., Platt, T., Curran, W., McKeown, G., Cowie, R., Storey, L., Berthouze, N., & Griffin, H. (2013). ILHAIRE D5.3: Quantitative and qualitative classification of and responses to laughter stimuli. The ILHAIRE Project, Tech. Rep. Available:

Platt, T., Hofmann, J., & Ruch, W. (2014). ILHAIRE D5.5: Factors of avatar laughter that may disturb gelotophobes. The ILHAIRE Project, Tech. Rep. Available:

Volpe, G., Cammurri, A., Mancini, M., Niewiadomski, R., Urbain, J., Dupont, S., Cakmak, H., Pelachaud, C., Hofmann, J., Baur, T., Lingenfelser, F., Wagner, J., Berthouze, N., Griffin, H., Hofmann, J., Platt, T., Ruch, W., Geist, M., Pietquin, O., & Piot, B. (2013). ILHAIRE D2.2: Improved multimodal analysis and recognition: Improved devices for laughter analysis and recognition, including tuning to gender. The ILHAIRE Project, Tech. Rep. Available:

Keywords / Suchbegriffe laughter, avatars, fear of being laughed at
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. Willibald Ruch (Project Leader)
Dr. Jennifer Hofmann, PhD
Dr. Tracey Platt, PhD
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Small or medium-scale focused research project (STREP)
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Prof. Thierry Dutoit
University of Mons
Polytech.Mons – TCTS Lab
Bvd DOLEZ, 31
B-7000 Mons
and research teams from 6 Universities/companies:

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France
Universität Augsburg (UAU), Germany
Universita degli Studi di Genova (UNIGE), Italy
University College London (UCL), United Kingdom
Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), United Kingdom
Supélec (SUPELEC), France
La Cantoche Production (CANTOCHE), France
Direct cooperation in three workpagages of the project with following research teams:

Queens University Belfast (QUB), contact person: Prof. R. Cowie
University College London (UCL), contact person: Dr. Najda Berthouze
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), contact person Dr. C. Pelechaud
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Sep 2011 to Apr 2015