The BMW iX Flow concept car employs electronic ink technology, similar to that used in e-readers, to convert the car’s bodywork into a variety of gray and white designs.
“This is really energy-efficient color change using the technology E Ink,” said Stella Clarke, a BMW research engineer. “So we took this material – it’s kind of a thick paper – and our challenge was to get this on a 3D object like our cars.”
The substance brings changing pigments to the surface when stimulated by electrical signals controlled by a phone app, enabling the automobile to take on a distinct tint or design, such as racing stripes.
Clarke believes that in the future, the adjustments will be controlled by a button on the dashboard or perhaps even by hand gestures.
According to BMW, no energy is required to maintain the color selected by the driver.
“My favorite use case is the use of color to influence sunlight reflections,” says Clarke. “On a hot, sunny day like today, you could switch the color white to reflect sunlight. On a cold day, you could switch it black to absorb the heat.”
Though the car on show at CES could only switch between gray and white, BMW says the technology will be developed to accommodate a wider range of colors.