BMW doesn’t want future buyers to have to worry about what color their next car will be or what movies are playing at the theater.
The German automaker unveiled at the CES technology conference this week a new concept vehicle called the iX Flow with “E Ink” that can change colors. It also showed off a new in-car 31-inch “BMW Theatre Screen” with Amazon Fire TV that’s expected to go into future production vehicles.
The fluid color changes are made possible by a specially developed body wrap that’s similar to material used in an Amazon Kindle E-Reader that’s tailored to the contours of the all-electric vehicle. When stimulated by electrical signals, the electrophoretic technology brings different color pigments to the surface, causing the body skin to take on the desired coloration, according to BMW.
Stella Clarke, project lead for BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink, said the color changing is “kind of crazy” but also could offer “some useful use cases.” She said it offers greater self-expression, could display messages such as charging status and blink if you can’t find it in a crowded parking lot.
“We see a lot of sensible use cases behind it,” she said during a media briefing,.
The actual vehicle is BMW’s new iX electric SUV but the color-changing technology won’t be show-room ready any time soon. Clarke said the color-changing technology isn’t slated to go into production at this time but there could be “a road for” that 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 featuring E Ink can only change colors through a scale of white, grey and black, but officials said the technology theoretically could offer other colors.
The “BMW Theatre Screen” is far closer to production, BMW officials said. It includes a 31-inch panorama display in 32:9 format with smart TV functions and a resolution of up to 8K. The screen comes down from the vehicle’s headliner to display in the rear row.
“We develop immersive, digital experiences for sheer driving pleasure. In Theatre Mode, the rear of the interior is transformed into a private cinema lounge,” Frank Weber, a member of BMW AG’s board of management, in a statement. “With the 31-inch display, 5G connectivity, 8K resolution, surround sound and individual streaming program, an unprecedented experience is created that sets new standards for in-car entertainment.”