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Capturing, Representing, and Interacting with Laughter


We investigate a speculative future in which we celebrate happiness by capturing laughter and representing it in tangible forms. We explored technologies for capturing naturally occurring laughter as well as various physical representations of it. For several weeks, our participants collected audio samples of everyday conversations with their loved ones. We processed those samples through a machine learning algorithm and shared the resulting tangible representations (e.g., physical containers and edible displays) with our participants. In collecting, listening to, interacting with, and sharing their laughter with loved ones, participants described both joy in preserving and interacting with laughter and tension in collecting it. This study revealed that the tangibility of laughter representations matters, especially its symbolism and material quality. We discuss design implications of giving permanent forms to laughter and consider the sound of laughter as a part of our personal past that we might seek to preserve and reflect upon.

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