The BMW color-changing iXflow car is a wonder of technology. A driver can change the color of the car’s exterior using a smartphone app. BMW says eventually, you’ll be able to change your car’s color with the touch of a button on your dashboard, and further along, possibly with a simple hand gesture. Why change the color of your car? With the color-changing technology, you can keep your car cool in summer, or help to heat it in winter. The first color-changing car also shows promise as neurofeedback therapy that can help to calm and relax the brains of lucky owners.
BMW just debuted this amazing car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The car uses e-ink, such as that found in e-readers like the Kindle, to change the exterior color of the car into various patterns of gray and white. If that sounds like a boring choice, no worries—BMW plans to expand the line to include a full range of colors in the near future.
The color change feature is not just an amazing technological feat to show off to your friends, but actually has practical applications. BMW iXflow Project Manager Stella Clarke says that the color changes are useful for changing weather. On a hot and sunny day, the driver can switch the color to white, to reflect sunlight, while on a cold winter day, you can switch the color to black to help absorb and keep in the heat.
BMW iXflow e-Ink Technology
How does the technology work? The body of the car is covered with foil containing millions of color capsules. Electrical signals then stimulate positively charged black or negatively charged white pigments to change the look of this SUV. The electrophoretic paint used for this process consumes electricity only when switching between shades of gray and white.
A mid-May event held by BMW in conjunction with a Munich-based startup tested the potential of the color-changing feature as neurofeedback to relieve anxiety and stress. The purpose of the event was for experts to share ideas from across disciplines and different parts of the world to increase mental health awareness. At the event, the BMW iXflow was connected to the brain via electroencephalograph (EEG) to record brain activity. The color patterns produced by the car were found to react to and reflect levels of brain activity. “Once the brain is at rest, the changes of patterns on the iX Flow also become calmer and more rhythmical,” explained Brain Boost CEO Philipp Heiler.
Where does the neurofeedback component come in? When test subjects maintained this state of calm for several seconds, a special animation was activated. The subjects were able to use this feedback to stay calm for longer periods of time, all thanks to the color-changing technology of the BMW iXflow.
Color-Changing Car as Neurofeedback Therapy?
Could an iXflow driver be a safer, more relaxed driver, with better responses and reflexes on the road? The thought is certainly an interesting one. Of course, just as watching an aquarium of fish can lower blood pressure, you could just sit in your garage and watch your car change colors, after a hard day of work. (Nope, BMW is not quite there yet, but it could still happen!)
BMW Blog interviewed Stella Clarke during a display of the iXflow at the 2022 Concorso d’Eleganza with the stunning Villa d’Este as backdrop. Clarke explains how she used technology already in existence in e-readers to bring the color-changing technology to consumers.
We can’t wait for someone to donate one of these babies to us. Not only would we like to see the car close up, but we’re sure it will generate lots of revenue to fund our valuable educational programs for children and families. It may be awhile until it happens, but we’ll try to be patient.