When BMW first debuted its E Ink technology at last year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show), it seemed like a fun, gimmicky tech exercise that wouldn’t actually make it to a real car. Even when BMW’s E Ink project leader said there was a more advanced version, with more colors and more customization, it still seemed like a pipedream. However, that more advanced version is here at this year’s 2023 CES and it completely transforms the look of the car.
32 Different Colors, 240 E-Ink segments
The all-new, upgraded E Ink tech is featured on the BMW i Vision DEE concept car, which is designed to showcase the future of BMW’s technology. With Dee, BMW wants to combine the physical and the digital and there’s really no better of way of doing that that quite literally changing the look of the car on the fly.
For the second generation of E Ink, BMW fitted the Vision DEE with 240 E-Ink segments, all of which are capable of displaying 32 different colors. While 240 segments might not sound like a lot at first, considering how big a car is, 240 is a lot. That means the car can have a nearly endless combination of designs and layouts, thanks to fully customizable E-Ink panels.
According to BMW, the car will be able to literally communicate with passengers, with various facial expressions using the E-Ink panels, kidney grilles, and headlights. It will also be able to create customized welcome greetings. According to BMW, the point of giving it expressions and the ability to communicate is to give the car its own character and personality.
The design of the Vision DEE concept car itself is intentionally bland. The idea is that, with E-Ink panels, its exterior design can vary so wildly, so it’s better to leave the car as a blank canvas. The only real physical, traditional design elements that are featured on the Vision DEE are the kidney grilles and the famous Hofmeister Kink. But that’s it.
BMW designed the E-Ink panels itself, in-house, to not only keep costs down but to keep the tech in BMW’s hands. Again, it likely won’t make it to production cars in this full form. However, there are some interesting applications in which E Ink can be used and it will be interesting to see if BMW offers it sparingly in the future.