CES 2022: E Ink joins forces with BMW to showcase digital paper technology


E Ink (Billerica, Massachusetts), the originator, pioneer, and global commercial leader in digital paper technology, has unveiled the BMW iX Flow Featuring E Ink at CES 2022 together with the premium automobile manufacturer from Munich, Germany: An E Ink digital paper-wrapped concept car showcasing a transformation in the way surfaces are experienced.

Combining E Ink’s innovative and rugged digital paper with BMW’s intelligent design algorithms enables the exterior to change from black to white in a dynamic flow. The iX Flow is using E Ink Prism, a design film for the architecture and design markets. E Ink Prism is fully programmable, giving BMW the creative freedom to customise the patterns and materials. To accomplish this, engineers from both companies worked closely together to create optimal functionality and perfect colour switching of their complex laser cut designs which align with the curves of the car.

“E Ink’s colour changing technology is technically amazing. Seeing it formed on our highly curved surfaces is absolutely unexpected and seemingly magical,” said Stella Clarke, head of project for the BMW iX Flow Featuring E Ink.

In addition to personalisation, a variable exterior also contributes to the efficiency of the vehicle. By nature, a white exterior on hot days would reflect sunlight and conversely, a black exterior on cold days would absorb the sunlight. This could reduce the amount of energy the vehicle uses for heating and cooling the interior.

The process of changing the colour of the car is extremely efficient because of E Ink’s ultra-low power technology. E Ink’s digital paper is bistable – meaning it only uses power to change colour, not to maintain it. This inherent trait makes it possible to change the colour of the car with minimal power, and aligns with the sustainability mission of the all-electric vehicle.

“This concept car with BMW is an amazing display of how surfaces of the future will transform to personalise, customise and provide information,” said Tim O’Malley, AVP, US Regional Business Unit. “Because E Ink is incredibly low power and durable, we can put our display technology on almost any surface, transforming a once static space into something dynamic and spectacular – and sustainable.”

Most displays emit light. E Ink does not – it reflects ambient light in its surroundings. This gives the display a paint-like appearance and a natural visual experience. The electronic ink is made up of millions of tiny microcapsules that are filled with white and black pigments – the same ink pigments used in the printing industry today. These pigments can be moved up or down using an electric field in a controlled manner, thereby changing the appearance at the surface of the display.

Caption: The concept car demonstrates pioneering technology in personalisation and self-expression (photo: E Ink, BMW)

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