New Tech Makes BMW Car Change Color on Demand

New BMW My Modes customized vehicle experiences debuted at the 2022 Consumer Electronic Show (CES). The roster of new tech included the introduction of a color changing car, unique soundscapes by Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, virtual art designs and a theatre mode showpiece.

The innovations came together in the BMW iX Flow concept vehicle.

"Digital experiences won't just be limited to displays in the future," said Frank Weber, a member of the management board at BMW AG, Development. "There will be more and more melding of the real and virtual. With the BMW iX Flow, we are bringing the car body to life."

E Ink

The BMW iX Flow features E Ink, which adapts the exterior color of a vehicle depending on user input. The change is made possible by a body wrap specifically tailored for the vehicle that uses electrophoretic technology to change the body skin to whatever color the driver desires.

The exterior color changes also increase the iX Flow's efficiency and interior comfort by reflecting sunlight in lighter tones, cooling off the vehicle or heating it up with darker ones requiring less effort from the climate system.

Unlike projector or display, E Ink does not need energy to maintain, it only uses short bursts of energy for color changes.

"This gives the driver the freedom to express different facets of their personality or even their enjoyment of change outwardly, and to redefine this each time they sit into their car," said Stella Clarke, head of project for the BMW iX Flow. "Similar to fashion or the status ads on social media channels, the vehicle then becomes an expression of different moods and circumstances in daily life."

BMW iX Flow Featuring E Ink
The BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink is pictured in a handout photo from the automaker. BMW of America, LLC.

Digital Art Mode

BMW is also bringing customization qualities to the interior, with the introduction to its Digital Art Mode by Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei. The My Modes feature aims to create a highly personal user experience on an emotional and functional level that can be created at the touch of a button or via voice control.

Features like drive and steering control, mood lighting and sound, along with the color scheme and graphics of the BMW Curved Display can all be made personal.

Digital Art Mode will be made available in select BMW series vehicles in 2022.

BMW Theatre Screen

Theatre mode turns the back seat of a vehicle into a private cinema lounge, complete with surround sound. The mode centers around a 31-inch, 8K BMW Theatre Screen that connects to the internet and streaming services via 5G.

BMW iX Theatre Screen
Preview of the in-car entertainment of future models with the BMW Theatre Screen. BMW of America, LLC.

The large screen tucks into the headliner when not in use. It can be controlled by touch operation or using touch pads integrated in the rear doors. The BMW Group is working with Amazon to offer entertainment through Fire TV, something Jeep vehicles already deliver to customers.

BMW IconicSounds Electric

With the new BMW IconicSounds Electric feature, customers can choose to have their car emit sounds atypical from those traditionally sounded by an electric vehicle via the company's IconicSounds Electric feature. BMW worked with Grammy and Academy Award-winning film score composer Hans Zimmer to create sounds that give the new SUV a unique acoustic character.

The drive sound varies by vehicle and requires a driver to select the My Mode option.

My Mode is activated using a button on the centre console. In My Mode Personal – the default setting in the BMW iX – BMW IconicSounds Electric use a spherical sound pattern and many tonal components to convey a basic acoustic mood. My Mode Comfort is the default setting in the BMW i4.

Both modes feature an acoustic pedestrian warning sound, which is usually required by law or federal regulation.

My Mode Digital Art “Quantum Garden”
My Mode Digital Art “Quantum Garden” by multimedia artist Cao Fei. BMW of America, LLC.

The arrival of BMW IconicSounds Electric comes with the announcement of two additional settings, Expressive and Relax. Expressive is accompanied by high-contrast neon colors and abstract patterns on the BMW Curved Display. Its underlying tonality consists of a violin tone.

This mode emits another higher-pitched sound when the vehicle is accelerating, altering the harmony in a number of stages as the vehicle's speed increases. The first full chord is heard when the vehicle reaches 37 miles per hour, followed by a second complete chord at 175 mph.

The BMW IconicSounds Electric will be available for the first time in the BMW i4 in the first half of 2022 and then also for the BMW iX in the second half of 2022. They can be imported into suitably equipped vehicles via Remote Software Upgrade.