Need to Know
23 : 08 : 18

The New York Public Library transforms classic literature into Insta-novels, Pinto recommends foods based on your dietary needs and Google delivers a daily dose of positive news.

The New York Public Library debuts Insta-story novels

Insta Novels by Mother New York for The New York Public Library

US – In collaboration with creative agency Mother, The New York Public Library has launched celebrated novels in the form of Instagram stories.

The project will transform classic tales into Insta-optimised edits, where each page of the book is transformed into a Instagram story slide.

‘Instagram unknowingly created the perfect bookshelf for this new kind of online novel,’ says Corinna Falusi, partner and chief creative officer of Mother. ‘From the way you turn the pages, to where you rest your thumb while reading, the experience is already unmistakably like reading a paperback novel..

Falusi notes that, through the use of technology, the collaboration can help to bring literature to wider audiences, adding, ‘We have to promote the value of reading, especially with today’s threats to American system of education.’

With teenagers’ attention spans monopolised by social media, brands are drawing inspiration from their social habits to augment storytelling. For more, read our Chat Fiction microtrend.

This new app delivers diet-specific recommendations

Pinto, US Pinto, US
Pinto, US Pinto, US

US – Described as a personal nutrition guide, Pinto is new a tracking app that helps users choose foods in order to meet specific dietary requirements.

To get started, users create a personal profile stating their specific dietary needs, choosing from pre-built profiles such as vegan, gluten-free or ketogenic diets, or adding in any allergies or disliked ingredients. The app can then be used to scan products or search through 100,000 foods on its existing database, informing users whether an item is suitable for their diet.

Pinto can also provide nutritional information about products, including total calories and fibre, sodium or fat content. ‘What we saw in the space was there’s a tremendous amount of data and information that’s potentially out there about food and about nutrition, but the way that data is sourced and the way that it gets to consumers isn’t really from the lens of what a consumer today needs,’ explains Sam Slover, co-founder and CEO of Pinto.

With consumers increasingly aware of the high salt and sugar content of some pre-packaged foods, brands are reacting with new services and devices that offer more information than the label alone.

A nanomembrane that plays music from your skin

Korea – A recent study published in Science Advances reveals a new smart material: a nanomembrane patch that transforms human skin into a sound-generating speaker or mini microphone.

The ultra-thin patch, which could be embedded into ears or as a patch on the throat, is designed to detect and produce sound. It is developed from a grid of small wires coated with polymer layers, and is capable of conducting heat and electricity. When operating as a speaker, the patch receives an electric audio signal and heats up the wire grid to around 33°c. It replicates the sound pattern by changing the pressure of the surrounding air.

As a microphone, it operates in reverse, converting speech soundwaves back into an electric signal, which can then be stored and played back by a smartphone or computer.

The research, led by a team from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, presents the future use of smart materials as a means of communication for those with hearing and speech impairments.

Explore our Far Futures series for more innovations that are helping to transform the human condition.

Pixel Records by Boiler Room and Google Pixel, Berlin

Google plants positivity into newsfeeds

Hey Google, Tell Me Something Good by Google

US – Google hopes to tackle the burden of bad news in our daily feeds by introducing a new digital assistant that makes positive news easier to find.

Amid political turmoil, environmental concerns and racial tensions, Tell Me Something Good is an experimental tool that delivers Google device users with a daily dose of good news. By simply asking, ‘Hey Google, tell me something good’, users will receive a brief news summary about the people and projects helping to solve problems and do good in the world.

Its selection of stories, drawn from a range of media outlets, are sourced by Solutions Journalism Network – a trained set of journalists who aim to discover the problem-solving stories missing from our newsfeeds.

This update from Google comes at a time when tech brands are having to demonstrate how they can have a positive impact on society.

Stat: China is driving the male beauty market

The latest figures from Euromonitor suggest the men’s beauty market will continue to grow over the next five years. This is particularly evident in China, where the industry can anticipate a 15.2% increase in sales, compared to 11% globally.

As such, beauty brands are capitalising on this growing interest by introducing male beauty bloggers and vloggers to their marketing strategies. Both Le Mer and Aesop have already worked with video bloggers in China, including Lan Haoyi, better known as his online persona, Lan Pu Lan.

For more on how the Men’s Beauty Market is developing, read our full report here.

Thought-starter: It’s time to reconsider why we travel

Next time a consumer has the impulse to travel they should think twice about their reasons why, says Bani Amor, a travel writer specialising in the decolonisation of travel culture.

Wanderlust, itchy feet, the travel bug – consumers attribute these phrases to their impulse to travel, naming something they want while recognising that they don’t totally know why.

Yet, at a time when both information and travel are arguably more accessible than ever before, it seems lazy for travellers to rely on urges – or maybe Instagram inspiration – alone and not investigate the roots and impacts of their travel.

For example, many travellers consider immersing themselves in another’s culture as the best way to learn about it. But as there is not much left to learn about the world that can’t be Googled, immersive travel should be the last option for someone looking to learn about a specific culture that isn’t theirs. You see, it’s common for tourists or expats to spend some time abroad and still know very little about the places they’ve visited, so what really lies behind this impulse to explore?

Read the full opinion here.

Alila Anji, China
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