BMW iX Flow; the revolutionary color-changing car
BMW introduced the iX Flow, the company’s first-ever concept vehicle, which features color-changing E-Ink at CES 2022. At the touch of a button, or if you choose, a tap on a smartphone screen, the iX Flow changes from white to black.
A specially constructed body wrap adapted to the contours of the all-electric car enables the fluid change in color. According to BMW, electrophoretic technology delivers distinct color pigments to the surface when triggered by electrical signals, causing the body skin to take on the chosen coloration.
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How does it work?
It’s essentially the same technology that powers Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. Millions of microcapsules suspended in a liquid make up a specifically made body wrap. These capsules contain pigments with differently charged particles. When an electric charge is delivered to the wrap, the colors will rotate depending on whether it is a positive or negative charge.
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In the field of exterior design, the technology allows for unprecedented personalization.
The groundbreaking E Ink technology allows entirely new ways to customize the vehicle’s appearance based on the driver’s aesthetic preferences, environmental conditions, or even practical needs. The BMW iX Flow with E Ink exemplifies this potential to great use. In this context, the BMW Group is driving technological advancements so that future production vehicles can enjoy a new level of customization both on the outside and inside.
Generative design approaches ensure that the segments depict the vehicle’s characteristic contours.
Generative design technique involves a design process that employs computer tools to determine the optimum solution for a given job. Software is used in collaborative design to assist designers in finding the best solution for their clients. It’s a multi-stage procedure for locating designs that meet all of the data and specifications provided.
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After receiving the data, the software quickly looks at overall options and possibilities. It can learn from the previous iteration and apply it to the next. The primary advantages of the generative design are its speed and adaptability. It can also encompass a wide range of possibilities.
The application of several precisely fitted ePaper segments provides the necessary color-change effect on a vehicle body. Generative design approaches ensure that the segments represent the vehicle’s particular features. The generative design techniques provide the formability and flexibility required to customize the ePaper to the vehicle’s design lines.
Laser cutting technology ensures that each segment is produced with extreme precision. The entire body is warmed and sealed after the segments are attached. The power supply for stimulating the electrical field provides optimum and uniform color reproduction throughout every color shift.
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How will an exterior color increase efficiency?
White cars will stay cooler than black cars on hot, bright days because they reflect more sunlight. Similarly, dark exterior hues help the automobile absorb more sunlight and thus more heat on cold days. BMW claims that by reducing the amount of heating or cooling required to condition the car on hot or cold days, the automobile’s overall operating efficiency will improve, even if the change is minor.
Selective color changes can help reduce the amount of cooling and heating that the vehicle’s air conditioning is required to provide. This lowers the amount of energy needed for the vehicle’s electrical system and its fuel or electricity usage. In an all-electric vehicle, adjusting the color to match the weather can extend the range. In the interior, for example, the technology may protect the dashboard from overheating.
Law and order implication; Are modified cars illegal in India?
In January 2019, the Supreme Court of India declared that no motor vehicle in India could be modified or altered in such a way that the data about the car differs from the modified version of the car. In layman’s terms, you can’t interfere with the car’s ‘structural elements’ in any way. Any modifications to the car’s chassis or engine are likewise prohibited. Although we are allowed to change the vehicle’s color, the only stipulation is that the color should be one that the RTO has approved.
Even if it becomes commercially available, bringing the iX Flow to India will be tricky. Currently, rules prohibit changing the color of an automobile without first obtaining permission from the appropriate authorities, in this case, the regional transport office. Some modifications will be required for a car that can change color at the whim of the passenger, or BMW would have to register all the color spectrum for its cars in RTO.
Changing the color consumes relatively less electrical energy. Once it has switched from black to white, it takes lesser energy to maintain it. BMW is still researching other possibilities and ideas like hidden police signage and company logos.
In the future, changes could be handled by a button on the dashboard or maybe even hand gestures. No energy is required to maintain the color which the driver selects.
The concept is still in its early stages, but it might be developed to include additional areas such as the dashboard, center console, and door trims. For example, if it’s hot inside the car, a lighter hue will reflect heat more effectively and require less energy for the temperature control system.
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Thomas DAL, Dean, Strate School of Design says, “We could also use it to increase interior personalization according to drivers and passengers.
For now, in a high-end car, you can change the ambiance lighting. Soon you will be able to change the color of interior elements: pink with clouds and unicorns for my daughters at the back, red or blue for my wife and me, or to welcome you specifically inside your cab/ Ola or Uber, by having your favorite color/pattern applied everywhere before you enter the cab, maybe even a friendly welcoming text on the seat.“
While BMW hasn’t said when the iX Flow would go into production, they did say that the special wrap wasn’t too expensive to produce and that the E Ink might eventually make its way into production vehicles. By 2025, they are planning on investing €30 billion ($34 billion) in future-oriented technologies.
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