BMW revealed its latest concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 in Las Vegas and it made quite the splash. There’s no door handle or any buttons on the dashboard, and there’s a winking eye where the headlights should be. But the biggest attention-getter is the customizable color-changing technology. Using an app, you can choose from 32 colors. And with 240 different segments, the possibilities are endless. Racing stripes, color blocks, and any other combination you can dream up displays almost instantly across the car’s external palette.
Last year, BMW debuted the iX Flow, which used a similar technology but could only change its exterior color between white, gray, and black. Now that incredible idea is completely overshadowed by this new concept car. It’s called the i Vision Dee. Dee stands for “Digital Emotional Experience.” The huge increase in tint options comes thanks to some familiar colors. Just like a desktop printer, the car uses cyan, magenta, and yellow to create the vast variety of shades.
The color-shifting conveyance uses E Ink, a name you might be familiar with if you have a Kindle or certain Android phones. The basics of how E Ink works relies on magnetic fields to shift between shades. In the case of an entire car’s exterior, what is essentially a paper-thin electronic coating doesn’t yet hold up to the elements. The video below shows a slow-speed test drive of the i Vision Dee on the Las Vegas Strip, but the car can’t handle much more than that for now. The concept car, which we saw on CNBC, is just that and not actually ready for the consumer market.
While we wait for our color-changing car, we still have inspiration from the animal kingdom. Some species, like octopuses and squids, can change colors to match their surroundings. Camouflage isn’t a necessary feature for a car though, and actually sounds potentially unsafe. But boy, does it look cool!
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.