The backseat of future BMWs will be prime real estate.
In-car entertainment has seen a surge in recent years as new technologies allow manufacturers to grow the size and functionality of their touchscreens. Technologies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Google-based infotainment suites, make these systems extensions of our smartphones and smart homes. But BMW is looking to change the game entirely, not for front-seat occupants, but for those sitting in the back.
Previously, BMW has implemented what it termed a 'Privacy Suite' function for the Rolls-Royce Phantom: a glass divider that divided the front and rear of the cabin and could turn opaque at the touch of a button. But a new patent unearthed by the i4talk forum suggests new functionality that would turn this barrier into a fully functional display.
The technical breakdown of the patent describes an 'apparatus' with two layers. The first is switchable from transparent to opaque, whilst the second layer comprises OLED elements. The first layer would then act as a display upon which the second layer could project data. According to the patent, the apparatus could be used "in car compartment dividers, windows and sunroofs".
It's highly unlikely that this sort of tech would first be implemented on windows and sunroofs though, as these exposed-to-the-elements surfaces are at a greater risk of being damaged. They could, however, be used as such for mobile advertising in the future.
The most likely use of the tech is shown in the relatively low-quality images that accompany the patent. In photos that appear to be taken from the back seats of the Rolls Royce Phantom, the dividing screen turns from transparent to blocked-out, and finally, displays an image of the upcoming BMW iNext SUV. When this technology reaches production, it would do away with the need for smaller, standalone screens in the back of luxury vehicles. While the images show a Rolls-Royce, we believe such technology could also be implemented in future iterations of the BMW 7 Series, as well as the forthcoming electric BMW iX7 SUV.