- bmw’s ix flow concept, shown at ces this week, can change colors, as long as it is a shade of gray.
- the ix flow is covered in e ink, the same material used in e-readers like the kindle.
- the tech allows instant personalization and can help the ix flow be more energy efficient.
at the 2022 ces technology show, bmw revealed two new products due to reach customers in the near future: the 2023 ix m60 electric suv and a 31-inch screen with integrated amazon fire tv. but bmw also showed off its wild imagination by unveiling a radical concept called the ix flow. based on the ix suv, the flow is wrapped in something called e ink—the material used in the displays of e-readers like the kindle—which allows it to change color in the blink of an eye.
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.
bmw sees a few use cases for the e ink technology in future bmws. first off, the color-changing wrap would allow the driver to adjust their vehicle’s appearance based on their aesthetic preferences. e ink could also make the car more efficient—in hot, sunny settings, the ix flow could turn white to reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the body of the car and decrease the reliance on the air conditioning. in cold weather, the ix flow could switch to black to absorb as much heat as possible and lessen the energy required for the heating system. having the climate control systems using less juice from the batteries would help an ev maintain a longer range in more extreme temperatures. bmw also suggests applying the material to the interior to prevent certain surfaces, like the dashboard, from heating up too much when left in the sun.
the e ink technology is also very energy efficient itself, only using energy during the quick color-changing phase, since the e ink does not require a current to maintain the chosen shade. bmw has not elaborated on the production possibilities of the e ink technology seen on the ix flow, but suggested that applying the material was not unrealistically expensive and that we could see e ink eventually making its way onto production vehicles.