Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

BMW builds an e-ink car that can change its look

A crazy vision of the future could see cars with a chassis inspired by eBook readers, meaning they can change from white to black all too easily.

If you’ve never seen how an eReader works, it can resemble something all too much like magic: words on a screen stay, with a battery life lasting weeks and a look so much like paper. It’s a little bit of technological magic, and great to see, even if it’s only in black and white.

We haven’t quite made it to colour e-ink screens, though they do exist, something we’re fairly sure we’ve seen at a prior CES in the past. However most books are printed in black and white, and so monochromatic electronic ink screens make more sense than colour ones, and are as such much more common.

But BMW has come up with a rather novel purpose for electronic ink screens all the same, taking the technology and applying it to the cassis of a new car, and making it a vehicle that can not only change colour, but apply designs to the car rather in an instant.

It’s a concept for the future that isn’t remotely ready, but could be an example of what’s to come, as BMW used the backdrop of CES to launch an idea worked on by Australian engineer Stella Clarke, wrapping a concept car in millions of little elements that can change the pigmentation at a moment’s notice.

The easiest way to describe this is to say the car features an electronic ink coating not unlike what’s used on an Amazon Kindle, or even one of its major competitors from Kobo.

While you won’t be reading books off it like you might a Kindle or Kobo — devices that use the same technology — BMW’s approach will allow you to change the colour of the car, or even the design it shows.

“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, the 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,” she said.

It’s not necessarily a technology applied to the car itself, but rather a wrap applied to the car, and one that seems to also fit on the wheels, with elements of what can be controlled seemingly working there, as well.

However this technology is just one of the concepts BMW is showing off at CES, which includes a 31 inch ultra-wide theatre to sit at the back of cars, providing up to 8K resolution (but more likely 4K) and potentially 5G connectivity, essentially offering a personal cinema of sorts for a long drive for the kids, or anyone else.

Both the private cinema and the electronic ink body wrap are likely a long way off, if they even ever come out, but the vehicle they’re being shown off on does appear to be something that will come out, though likely without those parts.

Set for release near the middle of the year, BMW’s iX M60 is an M-tuned variant of an electric BMW SUV, offering a top speed of 250km/h and a range of just over 560 kilometres, with more power than the rest of the BMW iX electric line-up.

It’s not a car we’ve tested, but out of the announcements being made by BMW, it does appear to be something closer to release than anything else, with the iX M60 being targeted for release in Australia by mid-2022.

Expect it to cost a pretty penny, mind you, because with the BMW iX already starting from around the $150K mark and this model featuring BMW’s M branding for high-performance tuning, you’ll need to expect a higher price tag here.

BMW iX M60
BMW iX M60
Read next