CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

Olympic Uniforms for the 2012 Opening Ceremonies

Original image
Getty Images

When the London Olympics open on July 27th, the Parade of Nations will be our introduction to the 2012 athletes. What each team wears to the Opening Ceremonies is the stuff of much conjecture, drama, pride, gossip, and criticism. Let's see what some of the teams will be wearing.

Ralph Lauren

Yesterday, Ralph Lauren unveiled the U.S. team uniforms for the Opening Ceremonies. They look quite traditional and patriotic, but the oversized Polo logo screams "prep school." And then there's the beret, which has American fashion critics howling. But the biggest part of the upset over these uniforms is the fact that they were manufactured in China.

The Opening Ceremony uniforms for the Australian team were unveiled May 3rd during Sydney Fashion Week. The suits were designed by Sportscraft with shoes by Volley. The athletes say the clothing is very comfortable, which is important as they will be wearing them for at least seven hours on July 27th. The Australian athletic uniforms were designed by Adidas; you can see them in a video presentation.

Next

Stella McCartney (daughter of Sir Paul) designed the British athletic uniforms for Adidas and came under fire for rendering the Union Jack in blue and blue instead of blue and red. However, they look pretty tame compared to the uniforms the volunteer "ambassadors" will wear during the games. In stark contrast, the uniform by Next that Great Britain's athletes will wear to the Opening Ceremonies is quite sedate.

Puma

The colorful yet slightly military Jamaican uniforms were designed by Cedella Marley, daughter of the late Bob Marley, in cooperation with Puma.

Reuters

Giorgio Armani designed clothing for Italy's Olympic team, fifty pieces in all for each athlete (plus luggage), and that doesn't even count the athletic uniforms! Armani did not design the athletic gear. The dark blue and white doesn't broadcast patriotism, but the jackets and polo shirts have the words of the Italian national anthem embroidered on.

Bosco Sport

Spain's uniforms were designed by Bosco Sport, a Russian company that is also doing uniforms for Russia and Ukraine. This is not sitting well with Spanish citizens. As a sponsor, Bosco is supplying the uniforms free, and some say they are worth every penny.

Bosco Sport

The Russian company Bosco Sport also designed the Russian uniforms. At the fashion unveiling in June, Aleksandr Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, predicted that his country would take home about 25 gold medals.

INA FASSBENDER/Reuters/Landov

Unveiled in April, Germany's uniforms by Adidas sort the sexes by putting women in pink and men in blue, and neither color is from the German flag. The matching scarves are reversible.

NZ2012

New Zealand's uniforms were contracted to Kiwi firm Rodd and Gunn, but folks are upset that they were designed by Czech designer Irena Prikryl (who works for Rodd and Gunn in New Zealand), made of Italian textiles, and manufactured in Turkey, China, and Italy.

The uniforms for Hong Kong were designed by Kent and Curwen.

Fila

South Korea's sailor look is by Fila, designed to recall the 1948 Olympics, in which Korea celebrated its first Olympic participation after liberation from Japan. Note the argyle socks. On the right are athletic uniforms designed by Bean Pole.

Adidas

With all the fashion designers in France, the French Olympic team curiously went to Adidas for their uniforms. The result was still understated high fashion.

See also: 2008 Olympic Team Uniforms.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
quiz
arrow
Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
Original image
SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES