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BMW previews colour-changing iX at CES

iX Flow featuring E Ink technology can change ‘paint’ colour at push of button

6 Jan 2022

FOLLOWING its unveiling of the range-topping iX M60, BMW has showcased an array of future technologies on its battery-electric SUV at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). 

 

Some of the innovations, such as new My Mode iDrive settings and accompanying BMW IconicSounds Electric soundtracks, will be made available on the brand’s i models soon, but, the futuristic BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink technology, which allows users to change the exterior colour of their vehicle at the push of a button, has attracted the most attention.

 

The colour-changing technology (developed by E Ink) is derived from eReader displays – the BMW iX Flow’s surface coating contains millions of microcapsules, each of which contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. When they’re stimulated by means of an electrical field, either the white or black pigments collect at the surface of the microcapsules, which is how the colour of the exterior finish is transformed.

 

The Bavarian brand says that generative design processes and laser-cutting technology were implemented to ensure that the multitude of precisely fitted “ePaper segments” conformed with the contours of the iX’s sheet metal and produced life-like variations of light and shadow. 

 

Although the colour-changing technology seems several years away from being offered in production cars, the technology itself is very efficient. Unlike displays or projectors, for example, the electrophoretic technology needs no energy to keep the chosen colour state constant, BMW says – current only flows during the short colour changing phase. 

 

BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink technology can only alternate its entire exterior between black and white at this stage (with a few shades of grey in between), but it’s conceivable that, in future, a vehicle’s exterior finish could be manipulated to display themes and branding.

 

There are practical applications too. BMW suggests drivers could choose a light surface on warm sunny days (white) and heat-absorbing one (black) on cold days, for example. 

 

“This reduces the amount of energy the vehicle electrical system needs and with it also the vehicle’s fuel or electricity consumption,” the firm said. 

 

“In an all-electric car, changing the colour in line with the weather can therefore also help to increase the range. In the interior, the technology could, for example, prevent the dashboard from heating up too much.”

 

Meanwhile, the latest generation iDrive operating system in the iX already affords greater personalisation of the driving experience via My Modes. At CES 2022, BMW showcased new Expressive and Relax My Mode settings, through which future BMW customers will have additional ways of adapting their vehicle settings to suit various “situations and moods”.

 

In the new My Mode Expressive, the appearance of the graphics on the BMW Curved Display is characterised by expressive colours and abstract patterns. In My Mode Relax, the focus is on wellness, harmony and relaxation, with a display inspired by natural landscapes. 

 

Of course, each of the My Mode settings are accompanied by respective BMW IconicSounds Electric soundscapes, created in cooperation between the BMW Group and the Academy Award winner and film-score composer Hans Zimmer. The electrified BMW M models also employ variations of the BMW IconicSounds Electric suite developed specifically for them.

 

BMW IconicSounds Electric generates driving sounds that reflect the specific performance characteristics of each of the modes. “In this way, the acoustic feedback to the movements of the accelerator becomes an elementary part of the driving experience,” the brand says.

 

BMW IconicSounds Electric will be available for the first time for the i4 in the first half of 2022 and for the iX in the second half of 2022, BMW said at the event.

 

Finally, the brand demonstrated the in-car entertainment system of the future with My Mode Theatre, which is said to transform the rear of cabin into a private cinema lounge. When activated, a BMW Theatre Screen lowers from the headliner and occupants can operate the entertainment system via direct touch fields and touch panels in the doors.

 

The theatre screen is a 31.0-inch ultra-wide display in 32:9 format, with a display resolution of up to 8K. It operates in conjunction with surround sound audio, as well as 5G connectivity.

 

The BMW Group is working with Amazon to fully integrate the Fire TV experience within the Theatre Screen system to give rear passengers access to a wide variety of content so they can stream videos, listen to music, and watch downloaded programs, all while on the road. 

 


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