People view BMW’s iX Flow prototype at the BMW booth at the CES Tech Show, Wednesday, Jan.5, 2022, in Las Vegas. The iX Flow is a system that replaces ordinary car paint with E Ink technology that allows the car to change color and design.
Joe Buglewicz | PA
BMW doesn’t want future buyers to have to worry about the color of their next car or what movies will be shown in theaters.
The German automaker this week unveiled at the CES tech conference a new concept vehicle called the iX Flow with “E Ink” that can change color. It also showcased a new 31-inch “BMW Cinema Screen” with Amazon Fire TV that is expected to be incorporated into future production vehicles.
The smooth color changes are made possible by a specially developed body wrap that is similar to the material used in an Amazon Kindle E-Reader that is tailored to the contours of the all-electric vehicle. When stimulated by electrical signals, electrophoretic technology causes different color pigments to appear on the surface, allowing the skin of the body to take on the desired coloration, according to BMW.
BMW iX Flow with E ink
Stella Clarke, project manager for BMW iX Flow with E Ink, said the color change is “a bit crazy” but could also offer “some useful use cases”. She said it offers greater self-expression, can display messages such as charge status and flash if you can’t find it in a crowded parking lot.
“We see a lot of reasonable use cases behind it,” she said during a press briefing.
The current vehicle is BMW’s new iX electric SUV, but the color-changing technology won’t be ready for the showroom anytime soon. Clarke said color-changing technology is not expected to go into production at this time, but that there may be “a way for” it in the future.
Automakers routinely use concept vehicles to gauge customer interest or show potential technologies or the future direction of a vehicle or brand.
The BMW iX Flow with E Ink can only change color on a scale of white, gray and black, but officials said the technology could theoretically offer other colors.
The “BMW Theater Screen” is a 31-inch widescreen display in 32: 9 format with Smart TV functions and a resolution of up to 8K.
The “BMW Theater Screen” is much closer to production, BMW officials said. It includes a 31-inch widescreen 32: 9 aspect ratio screen with Smart TV functions and up to 8K resolution. The screen descends from the vehicle’s headliner to be displayed in the rear row.
“We are developing immersive digital experiences for pure driving pleasure. In Theater mode, the rear of the interior transforms into a private cinema lounge,” said Frank Weber, member of the board of directors of BMW AG, in a press release. “With the 31-inch screen, 5G connectivity, 8K resolution, surround sound and individual streaming, an unprecedented experience is created that sets new standards for in-car entertainment.”