You’ve probably already seen it by now, as leaked videos of BMW’s demonstration from the CES 2022 show have already surfaced. Despite no longer being a secret, this is the official unveiling of the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink. What is this new E Ink, you might ask? It’s a new method of changing the shade of the car’s exterior, using electrophoretic technology.
The first car to get the prototype E Ink treatment is obviously the BMW iX, which was shown at CES 2022, changing its shade from white to black and back again. More than that, it was able to do it on different body panels, potentially giving the car a two-tone effect.
“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 and now CEO of BMW M.
The E Ink technology is actually a body wrap which, when stimulated with electrical signals, uses electrophoretic technology to change the pigment of its surface. At the moment, it only seems the technology can change color from white to black, as it uses negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments, allowing the electrical signals to choose which are shown. It’s actually a technology similar to that used in eReaders.
“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,” said 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.”
There are practical applications for the technology, too. The ability to change shade from white to black and back again can actually help with efficiency. A white exterior will deflect heat better than a black one, allowing the car to stay cooler inside, thus requiring less air conditioning. On the flip side, a black exterior will retain heat from the sun more, keeping the cabin a bit warmer in the winter, requiring less heating.
Will this tech make it to production or even be desirable among customers? Tough to say for either but it’s certainly an interesting tech and an interesting idea for a wide variety of applications.