German carmaker BMW introduced a new car that changes color at the touch of a button on Thursday in Las Vegas.
The concept car, called the BMW iX Flow, was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It uses the electronic ink technology that is normally found in e-readers to transform the car’s exterior into a variety of patterns in gray and white.
Now, drivers can match their car to their personal style or the weather.
“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,” said Stella Clarke, who headed up the iX Flow project at BMW.
Turning the car reflective white on sunny days and heat-absorbing black in the cold could also help to cut the electric vehicle’s energy consumption, thereby increasing its range.
According to BMW, the iX Flow is “the first car in the world whose exterior color can be changed at the touch of a button.”
BMW says technology will be expanded to cover a spectrum of colors
The digital paper which is used to wrap the car was originally developed by students of MIT’s Media Lab; it functions with the help of traditional ink pigments used in the printing industry.
Each sheet contains millions of microcapsules, about as wide as a human hair, filled with negatively-charged white pigments and positively-charged black pigments.
Stimulating these capsules with electricity will prompt the chosen color ink to move to the surface of the capsule, becoming visible from the outside.
Unlike traditional screens, of course, the digital paper does not emit light and it only uses power to change the color, not to maintain it.
Though the vehicle displayed at CES could only alternate between gray and white, the technology will be expanded to cover a spectrum of colors, according to BMW.