On Wednesday at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show, BMW unveiled new exterior color-changing technology developed with E Ink for the BMW iX.
BMW says potential “future technology” would allow consumers to change the exterior color of their vehicles. E Ink says BMW has the creative freedom to customize patterns and materials.
“In the future, digital experiences will not be limited to screens,” said Frank Weber, BMW AG, member of the Development Board of Management, in a press release. “There will be more and more fusion between the real and the virtual. With the BMW iX Flow, we bring bodywork to life. »
As this is still a concept, Tim O’Malley, Assistant Vice President of E Ink’s US Regional Business Unit, said details of the RDN repair were unknown at this stage.
“How a manufacturer would enter actual production would determine the repair process,” he said. “However, as this is a film, a body repairer might assume that repairing a section of the car would also suggest that a section of the film would also be replaced.”
E-ink is made up of millions of tiny microcapsules filled with white and black pigments that are moved up or down using an electric field to change the color of the surface. A specially developed body wrap is perfectly matched to the contours of BMW’s all-electric Sports Activity Vehicle.
According to E Ink, the “innovative and robust” digital paper combined with BMW’s intelligent design algorithms allows the exterior to transition from black to white in a dynamic flow through the use of its programmable and flexible E Ink Prism film – a form of digital paper. Laser-cut segments of ePaper are applied, then the power supply to stimulate the electric field is connected, and the entire body is warmed and sealed.
But it’s not just about outward appearances. Switching to black, or a darker color will absorb more heat from the sun and white, or a lighter color will reflect sunlight to decrease interior heating in hot weather. Either way, the right color change will reduce pressure on vehicles as less electrical heat and air will be used.
The BMW Group plans to eventually offer the technology inside its vehicles after further development is now underway.
O’Malley said the technology is found in e-readers, cell phones, medical wearables, logistics labels and digital signs.
“Because E Ink is incredibly low-power, durable and flexible, we can put display technology on almost any surface, turning it into something dynamic and spectacular,” he said. “As a one-of-a-kind concept car, the BMW iX Flow shows what is possible – how we might experience the world around us in the future.”
Most screens emit light, but the E Ink film does not. Instead, it reflects ambient light giving the screen the appearance of painting.
The tech concept comes after BMW introduced new robotic technology in October that allows multiple colors and designs to be applied without stencils or masking, which will be tested outside the OEM’s own fleet this year.
BMW isn’t the only OEM exploring color technology. Last year, MINI Global began offering a multi-tone roof on three- and five-door MINIs as well as MINI Clubmans. The automaker uses a wet-on-wet paint process to produce the sloped roof. Each is one of a kind and can be repaired by authorized repairers.
Featured Image: A close-up of the BMW iX sporting E Ink digital paper with microcapsules of e-ink which, when moved up or down using an electric field, change the color of the surface of the vehicle. (Photo courtesy of BMW)
BMW unveiled its new technology concept collaboration with E Ink at the Consumer Electronics Show 2022 on January 5. (Photo courtesy of BMW)