BMW unveils car that changes colour at Consumer Electronics Show 2023

The i Vision Dee can display up to 32 different colours

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Is it a chameleon or a car?

BMW has shown off its new technology at the Consumer Electronics Show which allows a car to change colour in a matter of seconds.

The technology is known as E Ink, and was displayed on the German maker's BMW i Vision Dee model.

The i Vision Dee car has 240 separate colour cells that can change individually. At one point, the prototype was a light green shade, then viewers saw it change to dark purple, and then red with white racing stripes.

E Ink is planned to be part of the BMW iX Flow range.

“Digital experiences won't just be limited to displays in the future. There will be more and more melding of the real and virtual. With the BMW iX Flow, we are bringing the car body to life,” said Frank Weber, member of the board of management of BMW, Development.

The idea is that the vehicle becomes an extension of the driver's mood.

The fluid colour changes are made possible by a specially developed body wrap that is tailored precisely to the contours of the vehicle.

When stimulated by electrical signals, the electrophoretic technology, based on a technology developed by E Ink that is most well-known from the displays used in eReaders, brings different colour pigments to the surface.

The BMW i Vision Dee at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show. Bloomberg

The surface coating of the vehicle featuring E Ink contains many millions of microcapsules, with a diameter equivalent to the thickness of a single human hair.

Each of these microcapsules contains negatively-charged white pigments and positively-charged black pigments. Depending on the chosen setting, stimulation by means of an electrical field causes either the white or the black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule, giving the car body the desired shade.

The i Vision Dee is able to display up to 32 different colours.

Aside from the exterior colours, the i Vision Dee has some futuristic technology happening on the inside as well.

It projects information across the entire width of the windscreen in an evolution of the head-up display.

The BMW i Vision Dee adapts to the driver’s habits, suggests destinations, entertainment programmes, and provides information, news, calendar entries and social media posts.

Chief executive Oliver Zipse said the mixed reality slider displays would be put into production in 2025. BMW plans to launch a new line-up of electric vehicles, which it is calling the Neue Klasse (new class).

“The vision vehicle is emotionally intelligent: It interacts with its environment,” BMW said in a statement.

“The vehicle uses its numerous sensors to register the identity and position of the person and reacts when they approach. Automatically opening doors welcome the driver as they approach the cockpit.

“Headlights and the closed BMW kidney grille form a uniform surface that stages a multimedia welcoming scenario of light, graphics and sounds — including nine different facial expressions. It has many emotions ranging from joy to approval to amazement.”

The BMW vehicle can also talk, with "Dee", a digital assistant, that conversed with Mr Zipse and others at the show in a female voice.

Updated: January 06, 2023, 10:53 AM
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