Digitisation is delivering an integrated user experience characterised by individuality and emotionalisation in the interior of current BMW models. The My Modes allow the driver to tailor the atmosphere in the interior entirely to their personal mood and the driving experience they want. With the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink being presented on the occasion of CES 2022, the Munich-based premium car manufacturer is offering the prospect of a future technology that uses digitisation to also adapt the exterior of a vehicle to different situations and individual wishes. The surface of the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink can vary its shade at the driver’s prompting.
Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development: “Digital experiences won’t just be limited to displays in the future. There will be more and more melding of the real and virtual. With the BMW iX Flow, we are bringing the car body to life.”
The fluid colour changes are made possible by a specially developed body wrap that is tailored precisely to the contours of the all-electric Sports Activity Vehicle from BMW. When stimulated by electrical signals, the electrophoretic technology brings different colour pigments to the surface, causing the body skin to take on the desired colouration. Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design: “The BMW iX Flow is an advanced research and design project and a great example of the forward thinking that BMW is known for.”
The innovative E Ink technology opens completely new ways of changing the vehicle’s appearance in line with the driver’s aesthetic preferences, the environmental conditions or even functional requirements. The technology thus offers unprecedented potential for personalisation in the area of exterior design. The BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink demonstrates this potential to impressive effect. Against this background, the BMW Group is driving the development of the technology so that a new form of personalisation can be experienced both on the outside and in the inside of future production vehicles.
Millions of paint capsules in a custom wrap.
Electrophoretic colouring is based on a technology developed by E Ink that is most well-known from the displays used in eReaders. The surface coating of the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink contains many millions of microcapsules, with a diameter equivalent to the thickness of a human hair. Each of these microcapsules contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Depending on the chosen setting, stimulation by means of an electrical field causes either the white or the black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule, giving the car body the desired shade.
Achieving this effect on a vehicle body involves the application of many precisely fitted ePaper segments. Generative design processes are implemented to ensure the segments reflect the characteristic contours of the vehicle and the resulting variations in light and shadow. The generative design algorithms enable the necessary formability and flexibility required to tailor the ePaper exactly to the design lines of the vehicle.
Laser cutting technologies guarantee high precision in generating each segment. After the segments are applied and the power supply for stimulating the electrical field is connected, the entire body is warmed and sealed to guarantee optimum and uniform colour reproduction during every colour change.