BMW unveils i Vision Dee, a brilliant concept car that can change colors in seconds

It comes with a new feature called ‘phygital touchpoints,’ the Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW revealed at CES 2023.
Deena Theresa
The Bavarian automaker unveiled the i Vision Dee at CES 2023.
The Bavarian automaker unveiled the i Vision Dee at CES 2023.

Interesting Engineering 

Picture a car with color-changing skin, one that is capable of displaying up to 32 different colors, and can create a digital avatar profile that can take up the side window. It comprises a slider to adjust the range of digital assistance and is replete with 'winking' kidney-shaped grilles that can talk back to you.

You're not in the future. This is the BMW i Vision Dee, which made its official debut at CES 2023 and was featured at BMW's CES Keynote speech from Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW.

Dee stands for Digital Emotional Experience and aims to "create an even stronger bond between people and their cars." The automobile is a mid-sized sedan, a classic BMW infused with an insane range of tech innovations. This time, the Bavarian geniuses have truly gone above and beyond to preview future designs and technologies that could soon hit markets.

"With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge. In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalization to transform the car into an intelligent companion. That is the future for automotive manufacturers and, also, for BMW: the fusion of the virtual experience with genuine driving pleasure," said Zipse.

BMW unveils i Vision Dee, a brilliant concept car that can change colors in seconds
32 colors across the spectrum can be displayed in total.

A significant evolution of the E Ink color-shifting tech

Before we go into the nitty gritty details of this head-turning car, let's look back at CES 2022 when BMW unveiled the BMW iX Flow

The concept car featured body panels that doubled up as a chameleon and changed colors employing electrophoretic technology. Since then, the very team, led by Stella Clarke, Head of Project lead, the mastermind behind the idea (she was inspired by the tech used in e-readers) worked round-the-clock on the E Ink color-shifting technology that debuted at CES 2022., according to The result is evident on the bodywork of Dee.

According to BMW, the i Vision Dee is an honest evolution of the technology. The concept's body is divided into 240 E Ink segments, each of which can be controlled on an individual level. As aforementioned, 32 colors across the spectrum can be displayed in total by drawing on a small, yet unique voltage to create shades from a color palette used in traditional printing. To elaborate, a wheel trim can change from yellow to purple and back when current passes through the material.

BMW also added that it's the first time E Ink is used on the entire outside of a car. The good news? It could soon find itself commercialized at the consumer level.

BMW unveils i Vision Dee, a brilliant concept car that can change colors in seconds
i Vision Dee's key focus is what BMW terms as a 'Mixed Reality Slider'.

Dee is "phygital" and can talk back to you

BMW has created a new term to explain a fusion of physical and digital elements — a "phygital" treatment — splashed across the car. This is evident in Dee's headlights and grille which is like a "face" with a virtual voice. BMW describes the treatment as a “phygital icon on a uniform surface, allowing the vehicle to produce different facial expressions.”

Add to this the way the car can talk to people, whilst simultaneously projecting an image of the driver's avatar on the side windows. Truly futuristic! The effect is amplified with high-resolution graphics, and dimmable windows let the other passengers inside stay hidden from view.

As you enter the car, you catch the i Vision Dee's key focus — what BMW terms as a 'Mixed Reality Slider' — a wonderfully expansive head-up display (HUD) that stretches across Dee's entire windshield. Now, while the entire concept sounds wild, this is one feature that seems truly feasible shortly. Now, usually, head-up displays contain information like directions and speed that is directly in the line of the driver's sight. Here, BMW intends to turn the entire windshield itself into a head-up display. 

An expansive head-up display that takes over the windshield

The Mixed Reality Slider can project five stages, ranging from stage one, which shows the entire windshield, to stage five, where a virtual world takes over. Between these stages, are modes for driving-related information, the communications system, and augmented reality projection.

With a feature like this, the driver has a large canvas to see essential information without taking their eyes off the road ahead. Drivers can also easily customize what they choose to see, courtesy of the "shy tech" sensors on the instrument panel.

Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group design director, told Wired: "Augmented reality is something that’s not just interesting, but actually helpful for driver orientation. You can focus on the road ahead of you, and the information you need will be seemingly projected onto the road. What we’re showing in this Vision car is a new technology that allows you to use the entire width of the windscreen."

Part of BMW's Neue Klasse architecture

Dee isn't done. The car showcases a feature called phygital touchpoints. How does this work? If you put your fingers near the door panel, a virtual switch appears for you to press. As expected, it disappears when you move your hand away. How cool is that? It's also practical, considering we will need lesser components in the future, helping automakers save massive amounts of money in production costs.

Now, it goes without saying, but i Vision Dee is an electric concept. Along with the full-width head-up display, Dee is part of BMW's Neue Klasse architecture that will "bring humans and machines closer together". The HUD will come to production cars that ride on the company’s Neue Klasse electric platform in 2025. 

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