BMW engineers are paving the way for future personalization of vehicles through colour-changing technology.
Recently, the internet was taken by storm at CES 2022 by the BMW iX Flow, modified with an electric paper technology known as E Ink, allowing the vehicle’s exterior to shift between shades of white and black.
While the E Ink technology isn’t new and is used most notably with eReaders, the application of the laser-cut E Ink electrophoretic paper in the automotive industry is being pioneered by BMW. Potential uses including emergency-service vehicles or customers wishing for real-time self reflection.
“This gives the driver the freedom to express different facets of their personality or even their enjoyment of change outwardly, and to redefine this each time they sit into their car,” says Stella Clarke, Head of Project for the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink. “Similar to fashion or the status ads on social media channels, the vehicle then becomes an expression of different moods and circumstances in daily life.”
View this post on Instagram
With a degree in mechanical engineering, a PhD in robotics and a membership with the BMW Future User Interaction Concepts department since 2007, Clarke first introduced the idea of the colour-shifting technology to the BMW Development team during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since submitting her first concept video, Clarke and BMW worked tirelessly to create the BMW iX Flow with E Ink prototype.
While the colour shift may seem like magic, the effect is achieved through the use of millions of microcapsules, each with a diameter equivalent to the thickness of a human hair. When the electrical field is charged positively or negatively across the laser-cut wrap, the pigments shift to a desired state.
In addition to requiring no additional power to maintain pigments, the application of an E Ink wrap is thought to provide the seasonal heating or cooling of vehicles, either by shifting to lighter tones in the summer and warmer tones in the winter. In turn, this simple change in colour could amount to energy savings in climate controls, allowing for lower fuel consumption and higher electric range.
While BMW claims the application of E Ink technology is far from the production stage, the manufacturer is committed to pursuing the technology for future projects and applications. “The BMW iX Flow is an advanced research and design project and a great example of the forward thinking that BMW is known for,” Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design said.
In the meantime, you can browse Policaro BMW’s selection of new and pre-owned BMWs in a variety of colours and finishes.