At the 2022 CES, BMW took the automotive world by surprising by unveiling an exciting new project: BMW iX Flow. Or now known as the “BMW Color Changing Car.” The prototype features the E Ink technology developed by Taiwan’s E Ink Holdings Inc., and further enhanced by BMW for its own use case.
BMW’s new E Ink technology is essentially a wrap that can change from white to black, with shades of gray in between, and it works surprisingly well. The way it works is that there’s a low-voltage electrical connection that supplies energy to little capsules in the wrap. The energy flips the capsules from black to white in this case but any two colors can be chosen for this technology.
But how did the BMW iX Flow came to life? We learned some details during our interview with BMW expert Stella Clarke, but a recent Bloomberg article reveals more details. According to the publication, BMW reached out to E Ink in 2019. With the help of E Ink experts sent to Germany, BMW’s engineers shaped the tech for the BMW iX. But the COVID pandemic slowed down the development process.
E Ink says that BMW treated the project with strict confidentiality and even E- Ink didn’t know what the car looked like until it was unveiled it. Furthermore, the report mentions that E Ink provided their e-paper materials to BMW, and the Bavarians were solely responsible for “coming up with the graphic design and turning it into a car wrap.”
Will we ever see this tech on a production car and will it cost of a fortune to do so? As BMW explains, it’s not some unheard-of technology, it’s the same sort of tech used in eReaders. However, scaling it up and applying it to a flexible wrap that can then be applied to an automobile will certainly take some expensive engineering, especially to make such an application cost-effective.
In the mean time, E Ink is working on the next-generation colored wraps to let consumers customize their belongings. And they might even work on smart license plates for cars.