When BMW first started teasing “Dee,” fans were curious as to whether it was a car or some sort of artificial intelligence system, like Siri or Alexa. As it turns out, it’s both. Dee stands for Digital Emotional Experience and it’s BMW’s way of combining the physical and digital worlds inside of a car’s cabin. To do so, it does use an advanced AI assistant, along with boatloads of additional software, but it also combines that software with physical ways for the car to communicate.
Connecting to the Real World
As car people, lets’ talk about the hardware first. With the BMW i Vision DEE, the concept car with which BMW is launching these new ideas, there’s a massive head-up display that spans the entire windshield. Along with that is a slider, that adjusts the levels of information displayed on the head-up display. There are five different levels of info, with the most basic being analog, which only displays typical gauges.
Mixed Reality Modes
From there, there are four more steps of information: driving related info, communications and media contents, augmented reality projection, and even entirely virtual worlds. That last one definitely can’t be used while driving. To control the levels of into, there’s going to be what’s called a “Mixed Reality Slider,” with which drivers can control and adjust the level of content see in the head-up display.
BMW wants to eventually take it a step further and add darkened windows to the mix, which would allow the virtual worlds to be even more immersive. However, that sounds like something that would require the car to be stopped.
Of course, Dee follows the classic three-box design which sits at the core of the BMW brand. But traditional design cues have been reimagined. The BMW kidney grille, twin round headlamps and the Hofmeister Kink are digitally redesigned.
To customize BMW Dee a bit more, it will have personalized welcome photos and sounds for when you get into the car. Taking that a step further, BMW will add an advanced version of its E Ink technology, the color changing exterior that was seen at last year’s CES. Now, E Ink is so advanced, it can be used to display emotions, messages, or even a digital avatar of the driver.
Up front, the BMW i Vision DEE lacks normal headlights and kidney grilles. Instead, they’re merged into one, with the lights being inside the flat digital panels that are the kidney grilles. With the headlights and grilles, BMW will be able to give the car facial expressions. Which means the car will be able to communicate and talk to people. That isn’t terrifying at all.
Now let’s talk about DEE, the software. Like other advanced AI assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, BMW’s DEE will be a fully integrated software that can control most aspects of the car. Voice commands will be paramount with DEE. According to BMW’s press release, “Language is the simplest form of interaction.” With a human, sure. With a machine? Maybe not so much.
Everything about the car will be personalize, too. The driver will set all of their own settings, for things like lighting, sounds, and communication. Then an array of sensors will determine where the driver is and provide a welcome greeting to them, by opening the doors and setting the cabin up to their liking. As part of that welcome greeting will be the driver’s digital avatar, projected on the windows.
Real World Usage
The BMW i Vision DEE is just a concept and will stay a concept. However, that doesn’t mean some of the ideas from Dee won’t transfer over to real production cars. Even some of its exterior design cues are expected to arrive on the Neue Klasse generation of cars, starting with the BMW 3 Series in2025. Other things like the digital avatar displayed on the side of the car, or exterior facial expressions might not make it to production. But they’re interesting ideas that will help shape the future of BMW.
BMW Dee Design Sketches