If you saw BMW’s faux social-media hack in December, you’ve already been somewhat introduced to Dee as a playful new character in the BMW universe. BMW made the formal introduction to Dee, or Digital Emotional Experience, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. And with that we’ve learned that BMW i Vision Dee is the “vision of the future digital experience, both inside and outside the vehicle,” coming in a clean, understated, and simplistic vehicle package.
BMW released a number of videos to go along with Dee’s official launch. While I sometimes–fine, most of the time–treat my project cars like family members, I think the finding-love-and-friendship theme of the video starring Alice, a guy who cheats on Alice, Arnold (you know which Arnold), David Hasselhoff, KITT, and a lovely E21, was a bit over the top. But from an automotive perspective, I can appreciate having a personal connection with certain vehicles while others will always remain transportation appliances. As the owner of two BMWs that have passed the 25-year mark, I do appreciate Arnold’s sentiments about older vehicles and the appearance of the E21 3 Series.
The tight coupling of physical and digital elements seen in the video will pave the way for future BMWs. Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW, says “With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge. In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalization to transform the car into an intelligent companion. That is the future for automotive manufacturers–and, also, for BMW: the fusion of the virtual experience with genuine driving pleasure.”
In addition to the short film, BMW released the following video allowing viewers to experience more of Dee’s new technology:
If you skipped the videos, here’s the rundown on new tech being debuted on Dee’s platform. A new Advanced Head-Up Display, projects “across the entire width of the windscreen allows information to be displayed on the largest possible surface–which only becomes recognisable as a display once it is activated.” This technology will be used in NEUE KLASSE vehicles starting in 2025.
Dee’s Mixed Reality Slider demonstrates what’s possible even further down the road. This works in combination with the aforementioned Advanced Head-Up Display by using “shy-tech” sensors on the instrument panel, allowing drivers to control how much digital content they want to see. The slider has five adjustments, ranging from “analogue, to driving-related information, to the contents of the communications system, to augmented-reality projection, right up to entry into virtual worlds.”
The next generation of BMW’s exterior E Ink technology now has the ability to display 32 colors. Bringing back an Arnold reference, this makes me think of a scene in Total Recall (1990) when a secretary changes the color of her fingernails by simply touching them with a stylus. This E Ink technology was first seen at last year’s CES on a BMW iX. For the new generation of E Ink present on Dee, BMW says “An ePaper film from the BMW Group’s cooperation partner, E Ink, is applied to the body to create this magical display of color. The body surface of the BMW i Vision Dee is divided into 240 E Ink segments, each of which is controlled individually.”
BMW touts that Dee is “another milestone on the road to the NEUE KLASSE,” which is right around the corner. It will be interesting to see if, how soon, and at what levels these new features and design elements are rolled into new BMW models. While most seem to fear change and large design shifts, I think Dee’s exterior design has vintage B-Sedan race car vibes, which I can definitely get behind. —Mike Bevels
[Photos courtesy of BMW.]