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Watson predicts festive season favourites

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IBM’s Watson Trend App is a new way for shoppers to understand the reasons behind the top trends of the holiday season and also predict the hottest products before they sell out. The app is available via a free download at the Apple App Store.
The IBM Watson Trend app distills the sentiment of tens of millions of online conversations by scouring 10 000 sources across social media sites, blogs, forums, comments, ratings and reviews. Unlike other apps or lists that provide a static ranking of “hot” products, the Watson app reveals how consumers feel about the products they are considering or have purchased.
Using Watson’s understanding of natural language and machine learning technologies, the app uncovers consumer preferences to pinpoint patterns and trends to reveal why people are choosing certain products or brands. The app also uses predictive analytics to forecast if a particular trend is a fleeting fad or will continue to remain strong.
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. 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).
Users can view the top 100 trending products and stories behind them across three categories – consumer electronics, toys and health and fitness. As of November 18, the top trends include:
• * Smartphone photogs drive demand for professional-grade cameras: While smartphones users have one of the most powerful mobile cameras at their fingertips, Watson finds consumers want more. Watson identified standalone cameras like the Nikon D-SLR are the number one choice for amateurs looking to take their photography to the next level due to their greater depth and superior quality. Amateurs aren’t the only ones looking to upgrade, expert photographers are setting their sights on Sony’s 42 megapixel Alpha 7RII mirrorless camera that allows them to record Ultra HD 4k video.
• * Whether it’s Star Wars or Lego City, buy now before it’s too late: The new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, has helped make Lego Bricks the “it” toy of the 2015 holiday season and it’s likely that many will sell out including the new Millennium Falcon set.  However, according to Watson in addition to Star Wars, two other sets will also likely sell out this season: Lego City and Friends. As a result, shoppers should take advantage of early Black Friday deals and make their purchases now. Beyond chatter about impending product shortages, Watson finds that adults and children alike are excited for the new Star Wars line while other products such as Lego City are selling well among both boys and girls, which reinforces the growing trend of gender-neutral toys.
• * Traditional toys go back-to-school: According to Watson, Mattel’s connected-toy, Hello Barbie is at the top of parents’ gift-giving lists but it’s no longer due to her sense of style. The new Hello Barbie delivers an “engaging and unique play experience” by letting children have a two-way conversation with Barbie. Parents specifically call out the companion app feature that allows for parental control of all conversations. Other “Edutainment” toys leading the pack, according to Watson, include the new PAW Patrol Imagicard Learning Game (for LeapFrog tablets).
• * Tis’ the season for wearable tech: When it comes to must-have tech gifts, wearable accessories top wishlists for both gamers and movie lovers. According to Watson, while excitement around Minecraft continues to be strong, the social conversations aren’t focused on the game itself but the new Gameband, which allows people to play anywhere, on any device. For movie-lovers, Watson identified excitement around the Oculus Rift (OR), a virtual reality wearable that not only enhances the gaming experience but can support made-for-OR movies.
As consumers use the IBM Watson Trend app to pinpoint what products are popular and why, IBM also reports on how consumers will shop for these gifts. With the Thanksgiving holiday just one week away, IBM predicts that, for the first time, more consumers will turn to their mobile devices than their desktop to seek out the best buys. Over the five-day holiday period, mobile traffic is expected to increase by nearly 57%, up 17% over 2014. Mobile sales are predicted to increase by more than 36%, up 34% over last year.
The Watson Trend App uses a combination of API capabilities from IBM’s open Watson Developer platform including Sentiment Analysis, Keyword Extraction, Concept Tagging and Taxonomy Classification. In the future, IBM Watson Trend will continue to evolve with the addition of new capabilities including geographic and language data, and an increased level of personalisation that caters to each consumer’s unique interests and preferences.