In January 2022, BMW unveiled a concept car that could change its exterior color to various shades of grey. This car, the BMW iX Flow, is a concept car that is not available for purchase.
In 2014, we wrote about a viral video that supposedly showed the exterior of a car quickly changing colors. While this video racked up more than a million views, it showcased the work of a digital artist who was imagining a technology that didn't quite exist.
Well, it appears that this color-changing car paint is now a reality. In January 2022, a video was widely circulated on social media that supposedly showed a car from German manufacturer BMW that could change the color of its exterior with a push of a button.
Another video from TikTok shows this car (The BMW iX Flow) changing colors from a different angle:
These videos show a concept car that was developed by BMW called the iX Flow. When the German manufacturer showcased this car during a virtual demonstration at CES 2022, they explained that the car was wrapped in E Ink Prism, a material developed in conjunction with E Ink (the company best known for developing displays for eReaders).
Combining E Ink’s innovative and rugged digital paper with BMW’s intelligent design algorithms enables the exterior to change from black to white in a dynamic flow. The iX Flow is using E Ink Prism, a design film developed by E Ink for the architecture and design markets. E Ink Prism is fully programmable, giving BMW the creative freedom to customize the patterns and materials. To accomplish this, E Ink engineers worked closely with BMW engineers to create optimal functionality and perfect color switching of their complex laser cut designs which align with the curves of the car.
"E Ink's color changing technology is technically amazing. Seeing it formed on our highly curved surfaces is absolutely unexpected and seemingly magical," said Stella Clarke, Head of Project for the BMW iX Flow Featuring E Ink.
"This concept car with BMW is an amazing display of how surfaces of the future will transform to personalize, customize and provide information," said Tim O'Malley, AVP, US Regional Business Unit. "Because E Ink is incredibly low power and durable, we can put our display technology on almost any surface, transforming a once static space into something dynamic and spectacular – and sustainable."
At the moment, this color-changing vehicle can only display shades of grey. However, it's possible that more colors will be possible in the future. BMW said that this technology has many uses. For one, it gives drivers an opportunity to personalize their vehicles on the go. Second, the color of the car can be changed to make the vehicle more energy efficient (change to white to reflect heat on hot days and to black to absorb hear on cold ones).
Car and Driver reports:
At the moment, the iX Flow can only shift through shades of white, grey, and black, but BMW suggested that adding vivid colors isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The E Ink wrap consists of millions of microcapsules containing negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. This microcapsules—which have a diameter equal to the thickness of a human hair—can be stimulated by an electrical field to bring different amounts of each pigment to the surface of the microcapsule, changing the shade of the car.
Here's the official video from BMW of the color-changing iX Flow:
The official statement from BMW says that “on display [at CES] will be the first-ever demonstration of a technology that changes the exterior color of a vehicle with the touch of a button.” That’s all we’re being told for now but it definitely sounds incredibly interesting and sort-of illegal as well. At least in some countries, changing the color of your car is a tedious process that involves changing the info in your pinkslip and so on.
While this tech might just be a showcase of what’s possible these days, the real-life applications might be limited at the end of the day. We also don’t have any clue as to how many colors we can browse through or what car will be used to showcase the tech, but we’ll find out all these details at the show. Since BMW is planning to unveil the iX M60, its top electric SUV at the show, it would make sense to see this new technology introduced on it. That would definitely attract a lot of attention to the new model.