Want on-trend gifts? Ask Watson

How IBM is using its cognitive computer to help with holiday shopping.


Watson, IBM’s computer system of Jeopardy! fame has more to offer than trivia on the American presidents.

Ahead of the holidays, the tech company has created the IBM Watson Trend app, analyzing conversations and sentiment online to help gauge which gifts will be desired most.

The app, available for free on Apple’s App Store, uses 10,000 sources across social media sites, blogs, forums, comments, ratings and reviews to figure out on-trend gift items.

“Using Watson’s understanding of natural language and machine learning technologies, the app uncovers layers of consumer sentiment to pinpoint patterns and trends to reveal why people are choosing certain products or brands,” according to IBM. “The app also uses predictive analytics to forecast if a particular trend is a fleeting fad or will continue to remain strong.”

Three groups – content, context and sentiment – are given a relative daily “Trend Score” from zero to 100, based on the impact or size of the conversation and the momentum, or rate of growth of the conversation.

App users can view the top 100 trending products in consumer electronics, toys and health and fitness. For example, as of today, Star Wars-themed Lego products and barefoot-style running shoes were top trends.