BMW iX Flow

BMW unveils ‘colour-changing’ car made of e-ink

Image credit: BMW

BMW has unveiled a 'colour-changing' car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that uses a body made of e-ink.

Called the BMW iX Flow, the prototype vehicle allows drivers to adapt the exterior colour of the vehicle to different situations.

The colour changes are made possible by a specially developed body wrap that is tailored to the contours of the all-electric Sports Activity Vehicle from BMW.

When stimulated by electrical signals, the electrophoretic technology brings different colour pigments to the surface, causing the body skin to take on the desired colouration.

E-ink, or ePaper technology, is typically found in e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and other devices. Its use on the iX flow means that the vehicle is limited to switching between black and white and shades of grey in between.

BMW iX Flow

Image credit: BMW

Unlike conventional flat panel displays that emit light, an electronic paper display reflects ambient light like paper, which makes it very power efficient as it only uses energy when the content on the screen is changing. It typically works through the use of an array of spheres that rotate to either a white or black side depending on whether they are receiving a positive or a negative charge.

A variable exterior colour can also help with the efficiency of the vehicle. For example, it can change to white on a hot day or black on a colder day to absorb more heat energy.

In both cases, selective colour changes can help to cut the amount of cooling and heating required from the vehicle’s air conditioning.

BMW said that achieving this effect on a vehicle body involves the application of many precisely fitted ePaper segments. It used “generative design processes” to ensure the segments reflect the characteristic contours of the vehicle and the resulting variations in light and shadow.

Laser-cutting technologies guarantee high precision in generating each segment. After the segments are applied and the power supply for stimulating the electrical field is connected, the entire body is warmed and sealed to ensure uniform colour reproduction during every colour change.

Frank Weber, a BMW board member, said: "Digital experiences won't just be limited to displays in the future. There will be more and more melding of the real and virtual. With the BMW iX Flow, we are bringing the car body to life."

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