Friday Five: Instagram novels and Mastercard macarons

Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Revisit a classic novel — on Instagram?

This may seem like an unlikely marriage but it turns out that hundreds of thousands of people are reading classic novels… on Instagram Stories. The project, Insta Novels, which began with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland just over a year ago, is part of the New York Public Library’s ambition to reach beyond its physical walls.

Insta Novels was created by design agency Mother New York and includes compelling animations on the book’s cover and throughout to bring the story to life and fit into the natural environment of Instagram. An unlikely success story it may be, but it goes to show the power of innovative and user-centred design.

2. Amazon ready to send Alexa down your ears

This feels like a natural progression — Amazon is working on Alexa wireless earbuds that feature built-in fitness tracking. Basically a combination of AirPods and a Fitbit, they’ll allow users to talk to Alexa during their runs, so they could ask whether they were setting a better pace than their previous run, for example.

You’d need to have your phone nearby to access the web, which I suppose is necessary but seems a shame in terms of being footloose and fancy-free. However, the earbuds are expected to cost less than £100, which makes me think that they will probably sell really well — but also that the sound quality won’t be that great.

3. Home care start-up to harness power of tech

Home care for the elderly is an industry that continues to grow, yet it is fraught with problems — few brands have much market share or trust, and there has been severe underinvestment in tech and healthcare. A London-based start-up, Lifted, is aiming to address the issues by introducing a tech-based, end-to-end elderly care solution.

Started by Rachael (pictured), a consultant who was frustrated by trying to arrange care for her mother, Lifted gives families real-time updates on care and a set of wellness data. The platform will schedule carer visits and keep a check on completed tasks. Crucially, Lifted directly employs its carers and pays them 20% above the market average — enabled by savings achieved by using a tech platform.

4. Google wins landmark privacy case

In an important privacy ruling, the European Court of Justice has ruled that Google does not have to apply the “right to be forgotten” across the globe. Since 2014 EU citizens have been able to demand that search listings linking to pages containing sensitive information about them are deleted. But this decision means the rule won’t apply elsewhere.

Google — supported by Microsoft, Wikipedia and others — argued that the right to be forgotten could be abused by authoritarian governments trying to cover up human rights abuses. The case had also stirred up interest as it could have been viewed as an attempt by the EU to police a US tech firm beyond the borders of Europe.

5. Bite the brand with Mastercard macarons

First, Mastercard dropped its name from its logo. Then it released its own sonic branding. Now the company is continuing its assault on our senses by unveiling ‘The First Taste of Priceless’ — a campaign that introduces two bespoke macaron flavours (‘passion’ and ‘optimism’) designed to underscore Mastercard’s famed tagline.

The multi-sensory “brand DNA” strategy is the brainchild of CMO Raja Rajamannar, who calls it “Marketing 5.0 — the era of sense and sensibility”. It’s easy to scoff (yes, I know) at the idea of taking a bite out of a financial services brand, but there’s no doubt that these bold innovations are helping Mastercard connect to consumers in compelling and impactful ways.

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We write about customer experience, employee experience, design, content & technology to share our knowledge with the wider community.