According to storied sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently advanced technology should be indistinguishable from magic. Unveiled at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show is a piece of technology that looks, I think is fair to say, sufficiently advanced: the BMW iX Flow featuring a color-changing “E Ink” wrap.
The slightly mind-bending innovation lets the car be white at one moment but a dark gray the very next, with the tech even being able to have the secondary color slowly crawl across the body temporarily, as if somebody is waving over it with a magic wand. Per BMW, the R&D project relies on electrophoretic technology—that is, the Xerox-developed science of separating charged molecules with an electric field—with the wrap bringing different color pigments to the surface when it’s “stimulated by electric signals.”
Get how it works, yet? Yeah, me neither.
Anywho, bar the electric charge door refusing to change color for whatever reason in this more candid video below, it’s extremely impressive and convincing—especially for a first public iteration—and you’d be forgiven for thinking the videos are fake. But it’s real and, as it turns out, doesn’t cope well with non-ideal temperatures because, according to Out of Spec Studios on Twitter, BMW had a backup example stowed in case the one here became too hot or too cold.
BMW says its E Ink technology is more than just a vanity thing. For example, it can provide a quick, easy way of conveying vehicle status such as whether it’s fully charged while you’re waiting at a charging station or, in a car-share situation, whether the vehicle has been readied and cleaned for use. In the event that you lose your color-changing BMW in a parking lot, its entire body may start flashing so you can easily spot it without waking any babies or scaring any dogs with the noisy panic mode.
If color-changing BMWs ever do become available for public consumption, we anticipate Bimmer sales to skyrocket among the demographic of “aspiring bank robbers whose only prior criminal experience exists within Grand Theft Auto.”
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