Humor Computer Interaction

Humor as research and design space gets me out of bed in the morning. It is my broadest research area, with meme impact (+ meme culture), playful designs and benign violations of our expectations of technology (a core aspect of humor) as subcategories/areas for exploration. 

Humor is a core part of the human social experience. It’s a commonly enjoyable mechanism by which humans are able to connect, share, and deepen affinity. As HCI, including the sub-fields of educational technologies, HRI, and technical HCI - move rapidly towards designing, developing and incorporating new human-like digital and robotic technologies, in addition to new modes of interaction (including VR and AR) it’s valuable to consider how humor, a natural social function, might be incorporated into these technologies, and what the impact of humor might be on a user.

Intuitively, many HCI researchers know that the concept of incorporating humor in systems, platforms, and digital agents has merit. At the very least, many agree that the incorporation of humor in these applications is worth exploring. As more human-centered design approaches are used in HCI, humor is a natural new frontier for exploration as it is so commonly experienced and employed by humans. If one is inclined to observe human behavior, as an HCI design researcher might, occasions where humor arises in social contexts is plentiful. View any social engagement and you’re sure to see humor easing interactions and increasing the quality of social encounters.

Current work

My research team and I developed hundreds of humor technology ideas over the course of several months. These ideas range from practical to absurd and span every form of humor genre.

7 prototypes that represented larger trends in the humor-tech ideas list (e.g. Pupper Bot: a robot dog that has fun all day while you're away) were developed through role playing and low-fidelity prototype development. We're currently user testing those prototypes with users.

Here is a sample humor tech/interaction video that represents a water bottle that nudges you to drink more water by spraying you intermittently.

Research Questions that guide our work in the humor-computing interaction domain:

How we deepen our understanding of how humor might be incorporated into technologies? 

How do we measure the impact of humor and playful interactions? 

How might humor impact users? How do we mitigate negative effects of poor humor choices?

What styles or genres of humor impact which users?

What area might humor be applied to interaction to aid the user experience?

Which technologies do most people want to be funny (or would have a better interaction with if it were funny)?