BMW's E-Ink, Instant Colour Change!

BMW's E-Ink, Instant Colour Change!

You may have seen a video circulating on the internet about BMW’s all-electric iX that can change colours in a blink of an eye. Well, saying it changes colours may be a bit far fetched because it actually just changes the shades of one colour, that colour being white. That being said, it is very impressive nonetheless and I’m already thinking about doing some mischievous things if the technology catches on. For now, let’s just understand what the whole thing is. BMW showcased the iX at the tech event, CES, alongside other manufacturers with EVs such as Mercedes, Tesla and even Sony. While the iX isn’t something completely new, the technology on the surface is something that has never been seen before, or at least on cars that is. BMW has made a car that can change ‘colour’ in a click of a button. As if the BMW iX isn’t impressive enough with the enhanced audio experience by the world-renowned composer Hans Zimmer, the EV is draped in E-ink or electronic ink. The kinda thing that works on e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle. However, it isn’t actually a paintjob but rather a wrap. Powered by the batteries themselves, the transition consumes very little power and the colour itself does not require any battery assistance. Dubbed the iX Flow, the car could only shift from white, gray and black. That being said, BMW hasn’t ruled out the possibility of more eye-catching colours in the future. But for now, it could only appeal to those who keep on posting monochromatic photos on Instagram.

How does it work?

The E Ink wrap consists of millions of microcapsules containing negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. These 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. While running away from the cops and changing colours is what first comes to mind, BMW claims that the transition of colours is rather useful. According to BMW, on hot and sunny days, the iX Flow can be switched to ‘white’ to assist with heat absorption on the body of the car hence reducing the need of air-conditioning. However, it works vice versa for the cool winter days to absorb as much heat as possible without having to rely on the heating system. This in turn lowers the need for battery power in order to maintain a higher range. While the idea may seem rudimental for now, it seems that BMW may have thought this through rather than just a fancy feature.

Let me guess, it’s a concept?

Indeed it is, the iX Flow is a concept of what scientists would refer to as revolutionary. But to all of us, it just means you can change shades of colours according to your mood. While BMW says the body panels are a concept, they did say that this material may end up in the interior such as the dashboard to reduce the effects of wear from the sun. Either way, it is interesting as a concept but it’s far from perfect and they may end up ditching it all together. But as someone who appreciates innovations, this caught my attention… and no, I don’t intend on doing some mischievous things if I were to have this tech in hand. Written by | Danial Malek Images by | BMW