With an exterior finish that can change color in the blink of an eye, the BMW iX Flow featuring E ink shows off one of the coolest new vehicle-related concepts we’ve seen in a long time. Using the same E ink technology as a modern E-reader tablet, the iX Flow can shift from black to white and back again in a matter of seconds, with different panels showing different shades and patterns. The underlying concept is relatively simple: a charge is passed through microcapsules containing positively and negatively charged pigment, and depending on the current, the exterior of the iX Flow can transform between colors, and can even wear a design with some panels contrasting against others to form patterns and stripes.
In a recent video on his YouTube Channel, Jay Leno’s Garage, the former late-night talkshow host and car lover gets up close and personal with the BMW iX Flow. Unveiled during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the response to the iX Flow has been remarkably positive according to Markus Brandly, who works at the BMW Engineering and Emissions Test Center in Oxnard, California. Seeing photos of the iX Flow in its different states of appearance is one thing, and BMW’s video of the potential future model allows for a closer look, but watching it shift from black to white and back again, with various patterns forming and disappearing on the exterior in real time on Jay Leno’s YouTube show brings the experience much closer to reality.
According to Stella Clarke, the project lead of the BMW iX Flow featuring innovative E Ink technology, BMW customers may be able to change the color of their car with the push of a button in the future just like what’s shown on the iX Flow. While the technology remains in its infancy in regard to automotive applications, the possibilities and benefits of the basic concept are nonetheless interesting, with the finish having the potential to help BMW achieve its sustainability goals on a per-vehicle basis. Some of these benefits include being able to change the color of your BMW depending on the weather and climate in which it is being operated, thus allowing the climate control system to work a little less strenuously to cool the cabin on hotter days, for example. Another possibility includes being able to change the color or exterior pattern of your BMW depending on your mood or personality. The technology can also be used to positively identify your vehicle in a crowded parking area.
It would be easy to fill pages discussing why the iX Flow featuring E ink is compelling and noteworthy, but as the saying goes, seeing is believing, and Jay Leno’s enthusiastic reaction to the new model and technology tells us almost everything we need to know.—Alex Tock
[Photo courtesy BMW AG. Video courtesy Jay Leno’s Garage on YouTube.]