Wednesday, January 19

New technology: Change the color of the car at the touch of a button

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the large showcase for consumer electronics and innovation. As so often before, BMW is also revealing some thoughts and ideas about the future during this big trade show that is now taking place in Las Vegas.

With a BMW iX as a starting point, they show what is possible with “digital coloring” of small and large surfaces through so-called electrophoresis.

The fluid color changes are made possible by a specially developed surface coating, which is tailored to the contours of the SUV iX. When stimulated by electrical signals, the electrophoretic technology brings different color pigments to the surface.

Millions of microcapsules

Unlike monitors or projectors, electrophoretic technology requires absolutely no energy to keep the selected color state constant. The current flows only during the short color change phase.

Electrophoretic staining is best known from the screens used in reading boards (eReaders). BMW Group is a first company in the automotive industry to use the technology.

The surface coating used on the car’s body and rims contains many millions of microcapsules, with a diameter corresponding to the thickness of a human hair.

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Have you also dreamed of being able to change the color of the car, according to your mood and situation? You can do that with E Ink.

More colors

Each of these microcapsules contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Depending on the setting selected, stimulation using an electric field causes either the white or black pigments to accumulate on the surface of the microcapsule, giving the car the desired shade.

Achieving this effect on the body involves the use of a number of precisely matched and laser-cut sections of the special coating.

After the coating has been applied and the power supply for stimulation of the electric field has been connected, the entire surface is heated and sealed to guarantee optimal and even color reproduction at each color change.

It will also be possible to use pigments with other colors.

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Increased well-being and lower consumption

Such a variable exterior color can also contribute to well-being in the interior and to the car’s efficiency. For example, a white surface will reflect much more sunlight than a black one. Thus, heating of vehicles and passenger compartments due to strong sunlight and high outdoor temperatures can be reduced by changing the exterior to a light color.

In cooler weather, a dark exterior surface will help the car absorb noticeably more heat from the sun.

In both cases, selected color changes can help reduce the amount of cooling and heating required from the car’s air conditioner, and thus also the energy consumption.

Dark and light color have different advantages in different situations.  On an electric car, the ability to change color can help lower consumption.

Dark and light color have different advantages in different situations. On an electric car, the ability to change color can help lower consumption.

Change the look

In the interior, for example, the technology will be able to prevent the dashboard from attracting too much heat. The innovative E Ink technology also opens up completely new ways to change the vehicle’s appearance in line with the driver’s personal preferences.

For an all-electric car, therefore, changing the color in step with the weather can help increase the range.

With this as a backdrop, BMW is actively researching the use of electrophoresis as part of future car design and functional use.

Video: See our test of the BMW iX here:

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