The Hofmeister Kink, a design element found on most BMWs in the last 60 years, has gone digital. For those just joining the BMW party, the Hofmeister Kink is the bend on the rearmost pillar which represents rear-wheel drive and forward mobility and is credited to Wilhelm Hofmeister, BMW Design Chief from 1955-1970.

Let’s back up a minute–it has gone digital? Yes. In an effort to engage enthusiasts, BMW and Performance Art, a creative-data advertising agency, used artificial-intelligence-driven software that systematically identified all kink-shaped roads in the US matching the Hofmeister Kink on BMW models since the 1961 BMW 1500. Specifically, BMW says, “we developed a convolutional neural network AI to recognize and understand the unique shapes of 46 distinct Hofmeister Kinks, featured throughout the icon’s history. Then we trained computer vision technology to search road networks across the entire US in order to pinpoint curves that match each Hofmeister Kink—all with mathematical precision.” Ian Mackenzie, Chief Creative Officer of Performance Art, noted “Using AI to detect and map Hofmeister Kink-shaped curves on a roadmap of the US wasn’t a needle-in-a-haystack kind of task–it was a needle-in-10,000-haystacks task.” So this is how Skynet is born?

Here’s how you play along at home: Step 1–go to hofmeisterkink.com. Step 2–pick a model. Step 3–profit. Use the interactive map to find the kink-shaped roads based on your chosen model near you. You can track which roads you’ve driven by selecting “Click if you’ve driven this location.” Collect them all, like Pokémon. Naturally the first thing I did was select the E30 platform and found a few E30-kink roads nearby. I guess I’ll be taking the long way home from the office on Monday. —Mike Bevels

[Images Courtesy of BMW and Performance Art.]

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