Buying a new car means having to pick a color, and once your choice is locked in that’s usually the color the car will remain for the remainder of its life. Sure, you can get it repainted, but that’s a hassle and not the kind of thing you’re going to do regularly.
That’s where the BMW iX Flow comes in. The electric SUV has been wrapped in E Ink, the same stuff you’ll find in a Kindle screen, and lets you change the color at the push of a button.
No, it’s not April 1st, this is a real feature BMW has developed. Though right now the color-switching feature is limited to white and black. There’s even a video (opens in new tab) of it in action; just jump to 2:30 and see the iX Flow’s cool color-changing abilities.
The iX Flow is even on display at CES in Las Vegas, which shows that the color-changing E Ink is a real invention and not an outlandish digital fake.
The ability to change color is great, especially if you live in a hot climate where black cars can get warm enough to bake cookies on the dash.
However, BMW also described being able to make the iX Flow flash, should you lose track of it in the parking lot, or using the coloring to convey some sort of information — be it battery level, cleanliness and so on.
The wrap is not perfect. It’s still a little rough in places, and you can clearly see the triangular patterns on the panels when the color is changing or if you get close enough. But it’s still a pretty cool idea, especially with all the extra use-cases BMW has described.
White and black are very basic colors, and the Flow can’t switch to another color like blue or green. Color E Ink does exist, so it’s not impossible to imagine a day where that’s possible, but for now you’re stuck with monochrome.
Sadly, the iX Flow is very much a concept car, despite the fact this tech has been applied to an upcoming BMW EV. So don’t expect to be able to buy a color-changing SUV anytime soon.
The Flow's E Ink wrap isn't the only concept feature BMW has on show at CES. The automaker is also showcasing future upgrades for its in-car entertainment, which includes a 31-inch 8K TV screen that offers access to Amazon’s Fire TV software. It’s also powered by 5G, so you should be able to enjoy high-res content without all the buffering.
The screen is behind the driver’s seat, so there’s no chance anyone will be watching The Wheel of Time when they’re supposed to be concentrating on the road. But with the nature of the car changing, especially with electrification and increased autonomy, BMW is looking at what cars might be like in the future.
Apparently it involves turning your vehicle into a movie theater on wheels that can change color at the push of a button.