You might not know it, but BMW has a network of “Technology Offices” all over the world. Here, BMW perfects technology ranging from batteries to AR and VR integration. In the United States, the Technology Office is located in the heart of all tech – Palo Alto in Silicon Valley. Now located in Mountain View, California, the BMW Technology Office USA is 25 years young as of November. We recently stopped by this innovation lab to learn more about its history, its secret projects and plans for the future.
An Accomplished History
The BMW Technology Office USA was the first BMW Group technology research and development office established outside Munich in 1998. BMW says the outpost focuses on emerging technologies, user-centered thinking, and product design to bring the future to each of the company’s new models. The media event celebrating its 25th anniversary is the first time the doors have opened to the outside world.
The BMW Technology Offices are responsible for some of the biggest leaps forward in BMW’s history. In 2001, the first prototype for wireless mobile phone integration into a vehicle was introduced. This rudimentary system allowed for remote locking and unlocking via a mobile phone. “We envision, two decades ago, that locking and unlocking a car with a phone would be relevant for our customers,” Claus Dorrer, VP, BMW Group Technology Office USA told media present at the event.
The innovation didn’t stop there. In 2004, BMW Technology Offices pioneered iPod integration into the first X5 – produced, of course, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “Remember,” the same Dorrer states, “that was at a time when you were happy to have a CD changer in your car.” Today, the BMW Technology Office brings trial XR research to the vehicle. Teaming up with Meta, the target is a complete blend of the digital and physical.
BMW Technology Office USA and Neue Klasse
“This event also celebrates a North American premiere. The BMW Vision Neue Klasse Concept represents an entirely new class of BMW vehicles and shows us here and now how the Ultimate Driving Machine will be interpreted in the years ahead.” BMW Technology Office USA contributed to the early ideation of the Panoramic Vision Display. That’s BMW talk for the head-up display that stretches from end to end on the windshield. Fitting, as BMW was technically the first automaker to introduce a heads-up display in a vehicle.
Here’s to 25 More Years, BMW Technology Office USA
As mentioned, the US-based tech office has plenty of neat stuff under wraps. Together with BMW i Ventures – BMW’s venture capital firm – they have over $800 million in assets spread over 75 companies. Major projects going forward include continued improvement on BMW’s sixth-generation batteries, more natural (and interesting) integration of the Intelligent Personal Assistant (read: voice interaction), and Augmented/Extended Reality (AR/XR). With a to-do list like that, I have no doubt that the BMW Technology Office USA will continue to move fast and break things for another 25 years.