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BMW’s colour-changing car has 32 shades and ‘almost infinite variety of patterns’

Professional Engineering

Promotional images show a dazzling array of technicolour styles, from the tastefully muted to the psychedelic (Credit: BMW)
Promotional images show a dazzling array of technicolour styles, from the tastefully muted to the psychedelic (Credit: BMW)

BMW grabbed headlines at last year’s CES with the iX Flow, a concept car with an exterior that changed colour between black and white at the push of a button. This year, they have gone one better.

At the 2023 edition of the consumer tech show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the company today (5 January) unveiled the i Vision Dee. This time, full-colour E Ink technology has enabled up to 32 different shades.

Billed as the first ever use of the technology on a vehicle’s exterior, the ePaper surface is divided into 240 segments, each of which can be controlled individually.

The result, BMW said, “allows an almost infinite variety of patterns to be generated and varied within seconds”. Promotional images show a dazzling array of technicolour styles, from the tastefully muted to the psychedelic, while the company’s CES keynote demonstrated smooth and quick transitions between colours.

The laser cutting process used to trim the ePaper films was developed in partnership with E Ink, BMW said, while the adaptation of the technology for curved surfaces and programming of the animations were developed by in-house engineers.

The concept car also features a full-width heads-up display that can apparently offer everything from practical driving information right up to “entry into virtual worlds”, and ‘welcome scenarios’ that apparently use digital and physical elements to enable the vehicle to produce ‘facial expressions’.

“With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge. In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalisation to transform the car into an intelligent companion. That is the future for automotive manufacturers – and, also, for BMW – the fusion of the virtual experience with genuine driving pleasure,” said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG.

As the vehicle is a concept car, it remains unclear how much of the technology will find itself into consumer vehicles.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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