BMW has revealed their new color-changing technology, allowing an entire car to change as if it’s had an entirely new coat of paint at the press of a button.
The tech was demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on the BMW iX, an all-electric car. The company is refusing to give out details on how the coating works – all we do know is that it is extremely temperature-sensitive, requiring a backup vehicle in the trailer behind it in case the show vehicle became too hot or cold.
True to their word, the tech was announced back in December and generated a huge amount of hype.
"on display [at CES] will be the first-ever demonstration of a technology that changes the exterior color of a vehicle with the touch of a button," said BMW prior to CES, reported The Drive.
In the two videos that have surfaced so far, the car changes from white to almost black, and then a dark ripple moves across the side of the car from front to back. The effect is remarkably smooth compared to similar technology that has been displayed previously – albeit not on cars – and has a realistic finish once the color is fully changed.
While the exact method of color-changing wizardry is still unknown, there are theories. It is possible that it utilizes thermochromic materials in conjunction with miniature heaters to change the temperature below the material, altering the color presented on the outside. This has been used to create an "invisible artificial skin" previously, and has a similar effect to the one seen on the car – it would also explain why it is so sensitive to temperature.
Others have suggested a sort of E Ink, similar to those used in Kindles, to display desired colors using electricity.
Despite how awesome the tech is, sadly it is unlikely to make it to public sale in most countries. Even if they get the temperature issue ironed out, many states in the US and nations throughout the EU require the relevant officials to be contacted when you change the color of your car. Any owners of this BMW would need a permanent hotline to the DMV if it ever made it to market. That is before we even consider the repair costs of one of these – body shops already cost enough, imagine if your car is covered in ultra-high-tech color-changing paint.
As CES continues, more awesome tech will surely crop up, so keep an eye out for our continued coverage!