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BMW North America uses AI to put Hofmeister Kink on the map

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Hofmeister Kink, a visual design element introduced in 1962 and featured on virtually every BMW model since, the brand is introducing a one-of-a-kind artificial intelligence (AI) platform. The newly created site hofmeisterkink.com allows BMW owners and enthusiasts to discover and experience roads that are shaped like the unique ‘kink’ design. Developed by the creative, strategic and technology teams at agency BMW Performance Art, the platform uses bespoke artificial intelligence to understand, recognize and pinpoint the location of every Hofmeister Kink-shaped road in the United States. Over 56,000 of them.

“The Hofmeister Kink represents an important part of BMW’s design heritage, a bit of insider information for BMW owners and enthusiasts,” said Kevin Campbell, Head of CRM, BMW NA. “The 60th anniversary provides a timely opportunity to celebrate this iconic feature by providing consumers with an engaging platform to drive their very own Hofmeister Kink and experience BMW’s performance design philosophy on nearby everyday roads.”

At Hofmeisterkink.com, drivers can discover “elbow-shaped” roads that match their vehicle or a vehicle of their choice from a digital library of hundreds of BMW models and years. On the platform, they can keep a log of the ‘kinks’ they’ve driven and share their stats on social media.

“While trends impact craftsmanship, some of the best designs are iconic and timeless,” says Ian Mackenzie, Creative Director of Performance Art. “Starting with BMW’s classic 1500 and all the way through to today’s all-electric iX, the Hofmeister Kink has evolved while retaining its signature shape. Taking this 60-year-old strong design characteristic and unlocking new dimensions using the latest artificial intelligence technology today is pure BMW performance. Simply put: our goal is to help the world rediscover this incredible and iconic brand asset by seeing it with fresh eyes. , and then literally driving it.”

While many people first recognize a BMW by its kidney-shaped grille, savvy BMW enthusiasts celebrate the Hofmeister Kink. Originally created to serve as a visual indicator of rear-wheel drive and forward momentum, the feature is located near the base of the rearmost pillar of every BMW and takes its nickname from its creator’s name. , Wilhelm Hofmeister, who headed the design department of BMW in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

To activate the program, BMW owners across the United States will receive personalized emails with directions to the nearest Hofmeister Kink-shaped road that matches the Hofmeister Kink on their vehicle. The Hofmeister Kink campaign launches today and is supported by digital, paid and organic social media, CRM and in dealerships.

Discover the data science behind driving the Hofmeister Kink

While the user experience that allows drivers and BMW enthusiasts to discover and navigate Hoffmeister’s more than 56,000 winding roads across the United States is simple and elegant, behind the scenes it’s powered by a complex ecosystem of datasets and custom-designed artificial intelligence.

To identify each Hofmeister Kink-shaped road across the country, the first step was to use images of every BMW model produced since 1962 to create vectorized versions of each model’s individual shape. Sixty-four vectorized “elbow curves” led to a custom-created synthetic AI training set consisting of 30,720 images, which were supported by Google Colab for machine learning and open source neural framework, Darknet, for computing.

From there, the job was to train the model using the synthetic training set, running the detection on the incredibly complex US road network that spans over 3.9 million miles. Asked about the project, Ian Mackenzie said: “Using AI to detect and map Hofmeister Kink-shaped curves on a US roadmap was not a needle-in-a-haystack task – it was a needle in 10,000 – Haystack task.

The team turned to YOLO v4, a convolutional neural network that detects and recognizes objects and shapes in real time, to identify Hofmeister Kink shaped roads across the country with astonishing speed and accuracy. The team then conducted dozens of AI training sessions to identify as many “problems” as possible while maximizing confidence in the results.

The final step was to extract the AI ​​results as +55,000 geographic coordinates that would feed the Hofmeister Kink CRM engine and use aerial photography and satellite imagery to visualize every fold from coast to coast. using the MapBox API.

Discover them all at hofmeisterkink.com