Friday, 07 January 2022 08:48

BMW's New Car Changes Color 'With the Touch of a Button'

Written by Grant Currin, Interesting Engineering
A concept version of BMW's iX Flow with color-changing paint. A concept version of BMW's iX Flow with color-changing paint. Interesting Engineering


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Personalization and self-expression are turning out to be major themes at CES 2022

BMW’s big announcement Jan. 5---a technology that changes the color of a car with the touch of a button---shows the storied German automaker understood the assignment.


The company unveiled the tech on a concept version of its new 100% electric iX Flow SUV. A production model of the iX Flow will be available soon, but vehicles with color-changing paint won’t be hitting showroom floors at car dealerships for quite a while---if they ever do. BMW described the chameleon-like exterior as an “advanced research and design project.”


The color-changing paint is a new, flashy application of a familiar technology. Electronic ink, which enables the “electric paper” technology that powers e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle, drives the paint BMW unveiled Jan. 5.


The ink is impregnated with microcapsules, about as thick as a human hair. White pigments within these microcapsules are negatively charged, and black pigments carry a positive charge. Input from the user shifts the electric field around the capsules, nudging some of the pigments to the surface where they change the color of the paint.


The technology is currently available in black, white and a few shades of gray. 


“This [technology] gives the driver the freedom to...

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