The electric SUV prototype uses the electrophoretic technology found in E Ink to change its exterior colour almost immediately. How does it work? The iX has a special wrap that brings different colour pigments to the surface via electrical stimulation. The colour-changing effect can go from front to back, side to side, in stripes and so on. The E Ink wrap allows for this adjustability.
The new technology opens doors for a whole new world of customisation, allowing owners to change their vehicle's colour and design based on mood, scenario or weather. These changing elements “give the driver the freedom to express different facets of their personality outwardly, and to redefine this each time they sit in their car” said BMW’s research engineer Stella Clarke. Another benefit of the technology is increased efficiency. On warm, sunny days, white cars will stay cooler than black ones because they reflect more sunlight. Similarly, on cold days, dark exterior colours help the car absorb more sunlight, and therefore more heat. BMW says this can reduce the amount of heating or cooling needed to condition the car on hot or cold days, which will improve its overall operating efficiency even if the difference is slight.
Clarke readily admits the idea is still just an idea, and it is a very long way away from a production concept. “A lot of stuff has to be done before it goes on to a production car,” Clarke said. “To be honest, we don’t know what we don’t know.” So far, the E Ink has a lacquer on the top so water is not a concern. Clarke and her team tested the panels in the chamber at temperatures as high as 158 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Clarke said that testing is “OK,” but there’s still more to be done. “Temperature and humidity are the concerns and we have to find the limit of high temperature and high humidity, low temperature and low humidity,” she said. “There are no limits to the colour combinations, as far as we know, and E Ink has not had economies of scale in automotive before, so they’ve never researched what’s possible,” Clarke said. “It could change design fundamentals. Design is about creating movement, but what if we can do that with colour?” she said.
Now as for the interior, the rear seat becomes a private cinema lounge setting a new benchmark for rear-seat entertainment.
Imagine this: The blinds close. The light slowly dims. The opening credits appear. An experience no longer just to be cherished in the cinema. In the near future, passengers in the rear seat will share the sense of anticipation: a perfectly orchestrated cinema experience.
“The BMW Theatre Screen is our idea of luxury in-car-entertainment of the future. It brings the ultimate digital experience to the back seats of your car, transferring it into a real driving cinema” says BMW’s Group Design Senior Vice President, Adrian van Hooydonk.