BMW stole the limelight at the CES 2022 with its electric vehicle concept iX Flow. Rather than its power or range, it was the car’s colour-changing exterior that grabbed the eyeballs. BMW’s car was spotted changing its exterior paint job from white to black in split second. The German car company has pulled off the stuff of science fiction. However, the technology behind this futuristic-looking concept is rather contemporary.
To put it simply, the company has wrapped the BMW iX in dozens of e-ink panels. Much like how a new page is rendered on the Amazon Kindle, the colour change on BMW’s concept car is achieved by swapping the white and black pigments. For those interested in more details, e-ink displays contain negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. By applying current, these lakhs of pigments can be rearranged to achieve a designed shade.
Tailoring e-ink displays for such a large surface is undoubtedly a tricky affair. BMW claims that to fit the material to cover every curve and corner of the car, the German engineers used laser cutting technologies. They also had to choose the material with the right amount of flexibility. To achieve the neat geometric animation effects, the company even had to code special algorithms.
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Apart from being perfect for robbing banks, BMW has highlighted other practical use cases. It believes that switching to the ideal colour under sunlight can result in better efficiency for AC. For instance, white can reflect the sunlight and help the car maintain a cooler temperature without requiring much energy. This actually makes sense because e-ink screens don’t require energy to hold their current state. Another neat advantage is that you may never have to contemplate over car’s colour in future. Unfortunately at this point, BMW has no plans to push this concept into mass production.