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Ginny's Dollhouse

16 Intricate Miniature Rooms

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Ginny's Dollhouse

Furniture is just furniture and rooms are just rooms, but when they're tiny they suddenly become fascinating and adorable.

1. A Library Within a Library

Courtesy of Tim Sidford/Sweetington

Tim Sidford makes amazing "shelf rooms" meant to be displayed between rows of books.

2. A Cupful of Czarina

Courtesy of TinyT42

This miniature of the last Russian Czarina's Mauve Room was made inside a teacup.

3. The Summer of 1885

Courtesy of Knoxville Museum of Art

This room is styled after a 19th century summer kitchen. It's part of the Knoxville Museum of Art's Thorne Rooms collection, miniatures commissioned in the 1930s and '40s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne.

4. Pretty in (Mostly) Pink

Courtesy of SDKMiniatures

This room is only 1 inch tall and 1.5 inches wide.

5. Reaching Nirvana

Courtesy of BelinaTLV

This room has a music theme—records, a guitar, and a Kurt Cobain poster on the wall.

6. Traditional in the Orient

Courtesy of DollhouseAra

An Etsy seller in Korea made this miniature room.

7. A Toasty Little Cubebot

Courtesy of Mini Modern

This designer used a Cubebot toy to make a fireplace in this mini room.

8. Ready To Go

Courtesy of DollhouseAra

Aww. It's a miniature foyer with tiny matched luggage.

9. Red Corduroy Couches? It was the '50s.

Courtesy of The Toy Box

This vintage living room furniture is the right size for a Barbie
doll. Too bad Barbie's dress doesn't match the midcentury modern look.

10. Cooking in a Cigar Box

Courtesy of JanelLovesCrafts

This rustic kitchen was made out of an old cigar box.

11. A Living Room for the Classic American

Courtesy of MiniPlacesStudio

This classic American living room is very convincing.

12. Just Right for the Dowager Countess

Courtesy of Ginny'sDollhouse

A room inspired by the drawing room of Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed.

13. Reclaimed Wood for the Hipster

Courtesy of NapkinMaps

Reclaimed wood is apparently a selling point even for miniature people.

14. Borrowing a Little from Greece and Rome


Courtesy of Knoxville Museum of Art

This Federal era drawing room is also part of the Knoxville Museum of Art's Thorne Rooms collection.

15. A Room with a View

Courtesy of Stewf

Check out the carved wood around this diamond-paned window.

16. Inception: Miniatures Inside a Miniature Room

Courtesy of Shenghung Lin

This nursery scene has three even tinier miniatures inside it.

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

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

501069-OpeningCeremony2.jpg

Opening Ceremony

To this:

501069-OpeningCeremony3.jpg

Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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