Ilaria Torre

Project: Creating a voice for engagement and trust

Exploring prosodic markers for sociability, engagement and trust in human and robot speech.

Research interests

My broad research interest lies in the amazing capabilities that humans have to convey a very wide range of meanings with only a limited set of available phonemes and with very small changes in the speech signal. I find it extremely fascinating how such minimal changes – which very often a third party listener barely notices – are perceived and immediately and unconsciously reacted upon by the listener they are directed to.

More specifically, at the moment I am looking at trust attributions to different voices, with the aim of improving Human Robot Interactions. Using a methodology derived from Game Theory, I am conducting behavioural experiments to collect implicit measures of trust (in the form of monetary investments) to virtual/robotic players associated with different voices.



  • 2012-2013 - MA Phonetics and Phonology University of York (pass with merit)
  • 2011 - Summer School “Aphasia: Language and the Brain” Utrecht University
  • 2009-2011 -BA Languages and Linguistic Sciences Catholic University of Milan (110/110 cum laude)
  • Awards

  • ISCA grant to partially cover registration at ExLing 2017.
  • ISCA grant to cover registration at Speech Prosody 2016.
  • Santander Internationalisation Mobility Support Scholarship to fund a one-month research visit in Mons.

Academic membership


Thanks to a Santaner scholarship, I have been able to spend one month visiting the TCTS lab at the Faculté Polytechnique at the University of Mons (Belgium). I was there from 27/08/2016 until 02/10/2016.

Workshops and conference attendance

Public engagement

  • I presented a demo of one of my experiments at Off the Lip 2016
  • I presented a demo of one of my experiments at Plymouth Robotics Day (30/06/2016)
  • CogNovo Cabaret at Rumpus Cosy (30/01/2015). I presented my research in the style of the "Split or Steal" part of the "Golden Balls" TV show, but with golden brains!

Roles in CogNovo

  • Organizing Committee, ColLaboratoire Summer School. Work started in January 2016 and the summer school took place successfully in August 2016. Some enthusiastic feedback from our students can be found here.
  • Cake Director – founder and current organizer of Cake Thursday (a weekly event that happens right after WHAT's UP).
  • CogNovo representative in the period April 2014 – January 2015.