IKEA Has Opened Its First Store in India

Noah Seelam, AFP/Getty Images
Noah Seelam, AFP/Getty Images

Vegetarian Swedish “meatballs” and build-it-yourself furniture have finally arrived in India, the AFP reports. Although the home furnishing behemoth first tapped the Chinese market in 1998, its new Hyderabad store marks the company’s entry into the world’s second most populous country.

Motorized rickshaws adorned with the IKEA logo and decked in blue and yellow—the colors of the Swedish flag—scooted around the South Indian city to promote the store about a month before it debuted. When it did finally open for business, about 200 customers who had lined up in an underground car park were greeted by a military band. One clothing factory worker traveled 360 miles from Bangalore just to check it out.

A canteen inside the outlet has tailored its menu to local tastes. The Swedish meatballs—an IKEA staple—were offered in chicken and vegetarian versions, as many people in India have religious or cultural reasons for not eating beef, pork, or meat in general.

Biryani (a rice dish), samosas (filled pastries), and meatless hotdogs are also on the menu. Different IKEA outlets around the world tend to offer localized menus featuring national specialties. They offer crayfish in Japan, shawarma in Dubai, cabbage soup in the Czech Republic, macarons in France, fish and chips in the UK, and, oddly enough, Thai curry in Switzerland.

IKEA plans to open 24 other outlets in India by 2025. However, some have questioned whether the concept of self-assembled furniture will catch on in the country of 1.25 billion. Analysts say the idea of DIY homemaking is unpopular, and spending levels are low. However, affordable items are on offer at the Hyderabad outlet, like a children’s six-piece bowl set for under $2.

[h/t The Guardian]

This Wall Chart Shows Almost 130 Species of Shark—All Drawn to Scale

Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Shark Week may be over, but who says you can’t celebrate sharp-toothed predators year-round? Pop Chart Lab has released a new wall print featuring nearly 130 species of selachimorpha, a taxonomic superorder of fish that includes all sharks.

The shark chart
Pop Chart Lab

Called “The Spectacular Survey of Sharks,” the chart lists each shark by its family classification, order, and superorder. An evolutionary timeline is also included in the top corner to provide some context for how many millions of years old some of these creatures are. The sharks are drawn to scale, from the large but friendly whale shark down to the little ninja lanternsharka species that lives in the deep ocean, glows in the dark, and wasn’t discovered until 2015.

You’ll find the popular great white, of course, as well as rare and elusive species like the megamouth, which has been spotted fewer than 100 times. This is just a sampling, though. According to World Atlas, there are more than 440 known species of shark—plus some that probably haven't been discovered yet.

The wall chart, priced at $29 for an 18” x 24” print, can be pre-ordered on Pop Chart Lab’s website. Shipping begins on August 27.

New Color Scale Makes Data Visualizations Easier for Colorblind People to Read

Mars topography visualized on a rainbow scale
Mars topography visualized on a rainbow scale

When designers want to visualize changes in data, like in a heat map or a topographical survey, they often reach for the rainbow. The rainbow color scale is almost the default for visualizing scientific and engineering data. And yet, putting all the colors of the rainbow into a single image isn’t a good idea. For one thing, as Scientific American reports, it makes visualizations impossible to read if you’re colorblind. And even if you can pick out every color in the image, that doesn’t mean you understand what going from red to violet means.

Now, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington have developed an alternative to the rainbow color scale that will make data visualization and other images easier to decipher for people with color-vision deficiency and the general public. Using a mathematical model of how the brain perceives differences in color, they created a new color scale they call cividis, which shows data exclusively in shades of blue and yellow—the colors that someone with colorblindness would see while looking at a rainbow color scale.

A nanoscale image overlaid with four different color scales
The new blue-yellow color scale is labelled CVD-Jet
Nuñez et. al, PLOS ONE (2018)

They took traditional rainbow color maps and ran them through software that converted them to look closer to the blue-yellow scale that reflects what someone with the most common form of colorblindness sees. Then, the software adjusted the color and brightness of that image to look more consistent with how people interpret data. One of the problems with the rainbow scale is that people automatically see the brightest color as a peak, sometimes leading them to incorrect conclusions. Even though yellow is one of the middle colors in Roy G. Biv, it often jumps out at people as the most extreme color on the map, though red is the highest on the scale. In this color scale, the color does get brighter as the values go up, so you don't have to work as hard to interpret it.

In general, most people don’t intuitively know what order the colors of the rainbow should appear in at all. Red and violet are at opposite ends of the Roy G. Biv scale, but that’s not visually apparent. Narrowing the range down to two colors makes it easier for readers to pinpoint where on the scale a specific point is.

The two-color scale also makes changes in data look more gradual, whereas with a rainbow of colors, the difference between each color looks very stark. The ability to show a gradual progression can reflect more nuance.

It’s not just a matter of aesthetics. An eye-catching, complex rainbow visualization can lead scientists to misinterpret their own data, while an easier-to-read scale makes it easier for them to pick out patterns. In one 2011 study cited by Scientific American [PDF], scientists at Harvard found that doctors were faster and better at spotting signs of heart disease while looking at 2D images of arteries on a color scale that just used black and red than while looking at a 3D rainbow visualization.

Cividis has already been added to the color-scale libraries of some image-processing software, and its creators hope to convince more scientists and designers to use it in the future.

[h/t Scientific American]


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