We here at Gizmodo do not normally endorse vandalism of any kind, but we’re making an exception this time for two reasons. First, Matt Gray isn’t actually causing any permanent damage—the upgrades are easily removable. And second, how could a talented hardware hacker be expected to resist having a little fun with this unusual signage?
For those who didn’t grow up in the ‘80s and are unfamiliar with what’s going on here, before Baywatch, actor David Hasselhoff was best known for a TV series called Knight Rider where he teamed up with a talking sports car called K.I.T.T. (the Knight Industries Two Thousand) to fight crime. The car’s most notable feature was a red light strip on the front that appeared to scan back and forth as the vehicle drove. It’s cheesy now, but in the ‘80s it seemed so futuristic.
But while the City of London’s Knightrider Court isn’t named after the popular TV series (it’s located on Knightrider court, a street actually named after a group of medieval knights from hundreds of years ago), Matt Gray couldn’t resist the temptation of giving its signage a suitable upgrade.
As hacks go, the hardware used here is relatively simple. A strip of red LEDs on an aluminum rail are attached to a 3D-printed battery pack also featuring an Adafruit Gemma that controls the scanning animation. After taking measurements earlier in the day, Gray returned under the cover of darkness to attach the light strip to the sign using double-sided tape.
The upgrade went mostly unnoticed in the evening due to limited foot traffic. But Gray returned the next morning, swapped in a fresh battery, and spent some time watching people stopping to take pictures and videos of their amusing act of vandalism. Before the local authorities caught wind of the vandalized sign, Gray decided they’d had enough fun and took it down, so like the Hoff’s character on the show, there was no trace it had ever existed.