With Holiday celebrations and family gatherings on the horizon, many are turning to AI for smart gift buying. Whether it’s seeking out unique, novelty items for tech lovers and enthusiasts, or using personalized recommendation tools to pick the perfect present for loved ones; AI is bringing a new wave of innovation to gifting.  

It’s the thought that counts 

But whose? Using AI for “smart gifting” is becoming increasingly popular – and of course, it’s very much a joint effort between bot and well-meaning human.  

Companies are using machine learning algorithms to help people find the perfect stocking fillers, both for hard-to-buy-for “I don’t need anything” relatives and conversely for those with very particular tastes. Décor and jewelry retailer Uncommon Goods created a bot named Sunny to help shoppers “find a gift they’ll love” by letting it know details like age group, interests and other criteria, as well as adding their own suggestions. The shopper can then “like” the ideas Sunny comes back with, helping train him to find even more appropriate gifts. 

According to a survey by Photobox Group, 48% of people would trust technology to help make personalized gift choices; while Uncommon Goods found that 45% of millennials preferred using AI to buy presents for friends and family.  

Self-flying drones 

The use of personal drones is on the rise, whether they’re disrupting air traffic or capturing family vacation footage for dynamic, movie-style memories. Drones use AI in a number of ways, such as mapping areas and perceiving surroundings through object and movement detection. They can also be programmed with a certain amount of autonomy to return home when running low on battery life. The latest self-flying model from Skydio takes this to the next level giving sporting enthusiasts like snowboarders or mountain bikers the ability to program the drone to follow them and capture their journeys real-time. It can also be used for anything from a family day out to a tool for amateur nature videographers. Whatever the use case, it’s an exciting and innovative gift that’s sure to be appreciated. 

Eye-catching cameras 

Another one for photography enthusiasts, whether professional or hobbyist, Sony’s new A6400 mirrorless camera features real-time eye autofocus (AF). Using AI-based object recognition to detect and track eyes, it enables the photographer to take intimate shots using shallow depth of field, while still managing to keep people’s eyes in focus even when they’re talking, dancing or simply gesturing in a way that would normally create a blur.  

The smart speaker 

Powered by machine learning, speech recognition, natural language processing, the smart speaker might be the most obvious AI gift. (And since our own Founder and CEO was one of the seven women behind Alexa, we’re of course happy to recommend them). From playing nursery rhymes and helping with the kids’ homework to booking a meal, their huge variety of use cases makes them fun, interactive and even educational gifts for all the family to share. Of course, there are now a few options on the market so a little research and comparison can help,  

An oven that cooks for you 

A true treat for foodies – including those that are more into the eating than the prepping – the June intelligent oven could be the epitome of the “smart” home era. With its own Alexa skill, it recognizes different food types and cooks them up to perfection. According to Digital Trends, the appliance “uses machine-learning artificial intelligence with a repertoire of more than 100 chef-developed programs to prepare your food the way you want it.” Though certainly a bigger ticket item, it’s the perfect AI gift for lovers of gourmet and gadgetry. 

AI-formulated skincare 

It’s probably not something you’d imagine to be AI-related, but this skincare range won MIT’s artificial intelligence award in 2018. Founded by Ming Zhao, Proven uses a priority knowledge base called the Skin Genome Project, developed by Stanford scientists, to create products that are custom-formulated for the user’s skin after they complete a self-assessment. The system analyzes thousands of ingredients, and over 100,000 products and millions of user reviews, enriched with named entity tagging, semantic annotation and text sentiment analysis, to come up with a unique solution. The brand’s ecommerce site offers gift certificates so that recipients can complete their own assessment and receive a personalized skincare product.  

Finally, though not an AI gift per se, for the self-professed tech lovers who always have the latest  gadgets, this AI T-shirt might just do the trick with the slogan: “AI. It’s like magic but real.”  Happy Holidays!