Choosing the suitable shade on your automobile is usually a difficult, even an emotional proposition. And what you choose while you’re on the seller could not really feel proper in a while. But what in case you might select a distinct shade each time you get into your automobile, whether or not somber grey, moody black, or sporty purple?
BMW is demonstrating simply that risk at this yr’s Consumer Electronics Show within the type of a expertise dubbed “E Ink.” Wrapped across the futuristic i Vision Dee idea automobile, it may possibly immediately shift amongst almost three dozen completely different colours, and even allow a motorist to choose one shade for the roof, one other for the hood, whereas choosing nonetheless extra hues on completely different elements of the automobile’s physique.
“Color is not just color. It is emotional,” mentioned Stella Clarke, the BMW engineer main the event of the E Ink course of as she launched “the world’s first color-changing car.”
From Kindle to automobile
The fundamental expertise isn’t all that new, although it’s by no means been used for automobile purposes earlier than. Millions of oldsters have skilled E Ink in units like Amazon’s Kindle reader. Also referred to as “electronic ink” or “electronic paper,” it makes use of microcapsules barely as thick as a human hair containing varied shades of ink. Each has a distinct electrical cost so when particular currents are utilized to the microcapsules, particular colours rise to the floor.
As with units just like the Kindle, BMW initially confirmed off E Ink able to flip-flopping between black and white with the iX Flow idea automobile unveiled on the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show. It’s spent the final yr working to discover a approach to make use of the extra complicated model of E Ink on a automobile. And it’s making its debut on i Vision Dee.
“She” is a showcase of applied sciences, together with absolutely autonomous driving, digital actuality shows and an AI-powered, wisecracking voice assistant formally referred to as the Digital Emotional Experience — or Dee, for brief.
And together with Clarke, Dee helped narrate the debut of the colorized E Ink system throughout a BMW keynote at CES 2023.
An automotive chameleon
The colours can change all however instantaneously, because the idea sedan dizzyingly displayed. All informed, the present model of E Ink can deal with about 32 completely different colours and the wrap BMW used for the i Vision Dee was divided into 240 completely different segments.
Even the automobile’s aerodynamic hubcaps used the E Ink materials, spinning out completely different colours like a high-tech roulette wheel.
Who’s on first?
Whether BMW can really declare to have launched the world’s first color-changing automobile may very well be open to debate. A day earlier than its keynote presentation, Volkswagen confirmed off a prototype of its new ID.7 battery-electric automobile at CES, and it used a high-tech camouflage to disguise a few of the sedan’s last design particulars.
That camo was truly a 40-layer electroluminescent paint that allowed the automaker to individually gentle up 22 completely different areas across the physique in several colours and patterns.
But the ID.7 system is unlikely to succeed in manufacturing, if for no different purpose than it consumes a big quantity of power to function — not one thing that will make sense on an EV since it might cut back vary.
As Kindle homeowners know, E Ink “is very, very low energy,” Clarke informed TheDetroitBureau.com throughout a background briefing on the expertise late final yr. “It needs energy only to change color,” she added, and the brand new hue stays even while you energy the automobile down.
That doesn’t imply that you simply’ll have the ability to go to your nearest BMW showroom and order a automobile wrapped in E Ink anytime quickly. While E Ink is broadly utilized in readers and different units, it’s nonetheless in an early improvement stage for automobile software, similar to the opposite applied sciences discovered on the i Vision Dee.
A brand new model must be developed that would easily cowl a automobile. Right now, the fabric is a problem to work with when becoming it over the creases and curves of a contemporary automobile. And it might must be sturdier than as we speak’s E Ink materials. Get a ding or scratch and also you’d have to interchange a whole panel.
And the expertise gained’t come low cost, although BMW officers declined to place a price ticket on a automobile lined in E Ink.
Still, Clarke mentioned “it’s very possible” a manufacturing model finally may very well be supplied, one thing that would supply you the chance “to express yourself by changing the color of your car.”