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2014 Olympic Uniforms from Around the World

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Last week we looked at what the U.S. Olympic team will be wearing during the Winter Games in Sochi, which open this Friday. Now we have some team uniforms from other nations.

France

You would expect the French to be stylishly attired at the Olympics, and they will be, in uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies designed by LaCoste. However, they might fly under the radar for their understated elegance and neutral colors.

Germany

The uniforms that will stand out are the rainbow hats, coats, and pants of the German Olympic team. The German Olympic Committee insists that the designs by Bogner were in place before Russia passed its anti-gay legislation (after all, they were colorful in London, too), but the coincidence will stand out against both the snow and any other team.

Canada

Photograph by Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Canada's Olympic teams will be outfitted in relatively understated red and black coats and sweaters from Hudson’s Bay Co, a longtime Olympic supplier. The athletes' uniforms are all made in Canada, while the replicas available to the public are manufactured in China, making them more affordable.

Photograph from Hockey Canada.

Canada's hockey uniforms look perfectly serviceable to non-Canadians, but drew criticism because the white jersey, being a negative image of the red jersey, resembles the logo for the gasoline brand Petro-Canada. Alternate colors are required of teams, in order to provide contrast to any opposing team. The jerseys are from Nike, who made hockey uniforms for several Olympic teams. Nike's jerseys for the US and Russian teams are little more ornate. 

Japan

The Japanese Olympic team will be all business at the opening ceremonies in Sochi. Their uniforms were designed by Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores. Those jackets are warmer than they look, made of a blend of wool and cashmere. Award uniforms and casual wear were designed by DESCENTE, Mizuno and ASICS Japan. Japan is sending around 100 athletes to Sochi. 

New Zealand

Photograph from NZ Olympic Team.

Winter Olympians from New Zealand will be wearing “onesies” by Mons Royale at the opening ceremonies. Outerwear is from PEAK. The picture here shows uniforms for various sports plus casual wear.

South Korea

Getty Images

South Korea is sending 64 athletes to Sochi, in warm coats modeled at a celebration of the country’s athletic delegation.

Italy

The Italian Olympic team has been outfitted in ceremonial and casual wear by Giorgio Armani, as in past Olympics. The uniforms in this picture, supplied by Armani, may or may not be worn in the opening ceremonies. We may be surprised to see what the Italians wear -but it will be stylish!

Czech Republic

Photograph from Roman Vondrous/CTK/Zuma Press.

The Czech Republic ski jumping team models team uniforms, although we are not sure whether this uniform is for only the ski jumping team or for the national team. These uniforms are much more understated than what they wore in Vancouver in 2010. 

Russia

Perennial Olympic supplier Bosco designed the uniforms of the Russian national team. As in previous years, they are heavy on the red, a bit brighter than the Canadian uniforms, and a little heavy on the fur. The gloves worn by the athletes have a different color on each finger, giving the appearance of a rainbow.

Norway

Photograph from Facebook.

The Norwegian curling team stands out for their sartorial flair in these dazzling athletic uniforms, no doubt designed to disorient any opposing team. Although not everyone likes the uniforms, the Norwegian team is so famous for their fashion sense that there’s a Facebook page dedicated to the team and their pants. 

Mexico

Is a uniform still a uniform when only one person wears it? The Free Online Dictionary defines the noun uniform as “A distinctive outfit intended to identify those who wear it as members of a specific group.” That works for Hubertus von Hohenlohe, the German prince who is the sole athlete representing Mexico in the Winter Games and the sole member of the Mexican Ski Federation.

Von Hohenlohe’s athletic uniform was designed by the Italian company Kappa to resemble a mariachi costume. When he competes in the Alpine events, there will be no mistaking him for any other skier. See more pictures of the speedsuit design here, and a video of the photo shoot here

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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:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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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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