New IBM Watson app tries to take the guessing out of gifting

IBM wants Watson to be omnipresent, and now it’s coming after your holiday gifts.

Well, sort of. IBM has launched what is arguably the analytics service’s most consumer-oriented application yet, in the form of, yes, a free app on iOS that suggests gifts for friends and family.

The goal is to help consumers get a head start on the hottest gifts before they sell out around the holidays.

The app works by scouring thousands of social media websites, blogs, forums, comments, ratings and reviews to provide a ranking. In addition, it uses natural language and machine learning analysis to understand why people choose certain products, as well as try and separate fads from real trends.

“To uncover insights behind the top holiday trends and products, Watson’s natural language engine aggregates insights into distinct trend groups: content, context and sentiment,” IBM said in a statement.  “Each group is given a relative daily Trend Score, ranging from 0 to 100, based on the impact (size of the conversation) and the momentum (the rate of growth of the conversation).”

Gifts are then divided into three categories, namely consumer electronics, toys and health and fitness.

So far, the trends include:

  • Smartphone photographers want to upgrade. Increasing numbers of users that do photography on smartphones are looking into DSLRs to improve their skills. It even identified specific models, namely Nikons for amateurs and a Sony model for experts.
  • Star Wars, The Force Awakens, will likely drive Lego sales. Watson warns that the movie tie-in set, as well as one called Lego City will sell out to both boys and girls, thanks to a growing trend of gender-neutral toys.
  • For Minecraft fans, there’s excitement around the Gameband, which allows people to play on any device. Meanwhile, Watson predicts the Occulus Rift will be popular among movie-lovers.

What are your thoughts on these predictions?  Frankly, we feel that these gadgets should make just about anyone happy, but that’s just us. Check out IBM’s video of the app in action and let us know if you’d be willing to let Watson take the guessing out of gifting.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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