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January 30, 2023
3 Min Read
Image courtesy of E Ink
Selecting a body color can be one of the most consequential purchasing decisions a car buyer makes, especially when considering resale value. After all, purple or pink are never going to be as popular as plain old black or white. The vehicle of the future may put such fraught decision making to rest, however, if coloring technology incorporated into the BMW i Vision Dee (for Digital Emotional Experience) concept car is anything to go by.
Every color, everywhere, all at once
The full-color version of BMW iX Flow Featuring E Ink debuted at the recent CES 2023 show in Las Vegas, NV, on the OEM’s latest concept car, following on from the release of the black and white version at CES 2022. The ePaper film encapsulates the vehicle exterior via 240 E Ink segments, each of which can be independently set to one of 32 color tones. This allows an almost infinite variety of patterns to be generated and varied within seconds.
The laser-cutting process used to trim the films and the electronic control design were developed in partnership with E Ink. The adaptation of this technology for curved surfaces and the programming of the animations were developed by BMW’s in-house engineers, enabling a form of customization that is unique in the global automotive sector.
Other plastics-intensive features of the Dee-mobile include a head-up display that extends across the full width of the windscreen, providing a glimpse of the next vehicle generation. From 2025 onwards, this innovation will be available in BMW’s Neue Klasse models.
As much — or as little — information as you want
The BMW Mixed Reality Slider, in combination with the advanced head-up display, is the digital highlight and central operating control of BMW i Vision Dee. Using Shy Tech sensors on the instrument panel, drivers can decide for themselves how much digital content they want to see on the advanced head-up display. (Shy Tech is described by BMW as a “hidden world of functionality” at one’s fingertips that is not necessarily noticeable by the eye.) The five-step selection ranges from analog to driving-related information, the contents of the communications system, and augmented-reality projection, right up to entry into virtual worlds. In parallel, dimmable windows can also be used to gradually fade out reality. Mixed reality can be experienced in BMW i Vision Dee in an immersive way that engages different senses without requiring any additional tools, creating a new dimension of driving pleasure, said the company.
Touchpoints that come to life when approached with the hand allow the driver to select what is projected onto the windshield of the BMW concept car.
Inside, digitalization goes hand in hand with reductive use of materials, operating controls, and displays to ensure nothing distracts from the digital experience or the new feeling of enhanced driving pleasure. The unconventional design of the steering wheel, with its central vertical spoke, creates touchpoints that come to life when approached or touched and can be operated by moving the thumb. These phygital touchpoints control selection of the content projected onto the windshield and, together with the head-up display, support the principle of “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road.”
“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,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “At the same time, BMW i Vision Dee is another step on the road to the Neue Klasse. With this vision, we are looking far into the future and underlining the tremendous importance of digitalization for our upcoming product generations.”
About the Author(s)
Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.
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