BMW showcased this chameleon-esque technology on its iX Flow concept car, and it’s quite a sight to see.
How many of us spend hours trying to pick from the number of color options automakers offer these days? It seems like BMW has grown tired of indecisive buyers like us. The Bavarian motor company unveiled a concept car at CES 2022, and it’s one that can change color via a push of a button. No, seriously.
So how does it work? BMW says the iX Flow uses electrophoretic technology that’s found in E Ink. The ink contains millions of tiny microcapsules, which hold negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. By triggering an electrical signal, based on your desired setting, the technology can bring different pigmentation to the surface. And yes, all this is done via a touch of a button.
Here’s a video of the iX Flow in action:
The E-ink technology is not a new one. If you have a Kindle, you already own a part of that high-tech BMW. It is also extremely energy-efficient and needs no energy to keep the chosen color state constant.
It looks cool, yes. But is this just a gimmick? BMW claims that different color palettes can have efficiency implications on its electric vehicles. For example, a white surface reflects a lot more sunlight than a black one. Hence, during summers, passengers can switch to a lighter surface color to keep the cabin cool. In winters, vice versa.
In both cases, the color changes can help in cutting the amount of cooling or heating required from the car’s air conditioning system. This, in turn, reduces the amount of energy the vehicle’s electrical system might need, directly affecting the efficiency of the car. This is also why BMW has limited the color palettes to just white, black and grey for now.
As per Stella Clarke, Head of Project for the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink, this technology could be used by drivers to locate the car by making it flash, or to display the vehicle’s battery capacity externally.
Of course, there are a ton of questions: How durable is the technology? Can it handle rough weather? How much will it cost? Can we retrofit this technology to older BMW cars? Sadly, since this is just a concept for now, it won’t be available at a BMW showroom. When asked if we’ll ever see this going into production, the automaker says this is just an “advanced research and design project”. So don’t hold your breath.
(Image credits: BMW Group)
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