Technology

BMW iX Flow can switch color on the fly

Go with the flow—literal or otherwise.

For the CES 2022, the folks at BMW got a wild idea to wrap the iX all-electric SUV with e-ink paper that can switch the color from white to shades of gray and vice versa. If you’ve used or heard about e-ink tablets/readers such as Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Libra, you know exactly what we’re talking about here.

But apparently, CES was just a platform to showcase the idea of an e-ink car that started a few years ago. Potential benefits include increased efficiency since a white surface reflects a lot more sunlight than black—cutting down the pressure on the air conditioning systems and ultimately offering range benefits.

The e-ink wrap on the BMW iX Flow contains millions of microcapsules that are only as thick as human hair. Each of these microcapsules contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Depending on the chosen setting, an electrical field stimulation causes either the white or the black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule, giving the car body the desired shade.

Of course, you’re not gonna see an e-ink car at your nearest BMW dealership anytime soon, neither you’ll see it as an optional “active color” or something like that while making a purchase, since a car that can change its body color on the fly would be deemed illegal in most countries. However, BMW might offer it as an option for the interior of the vehicle.

This gives the driver the freedom to express different facets of their personality or even their enjoyment of change outwardly, and to redefine this each time they sit into their car. Similar to fashion or the status ads on social media channels, the vehicle then becomes an expression of different moods and circumstances in daily life. – Stella Clarke, Head of Project for the BMW iX Flow

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