The BMW iX Reads Your Mind To Change Color

Technology / 5 Comments

The future is now.

Usually, one of the hallmarks of being "in the future" is the ability to control things with your mind. Star Wars, Bladerunner, and Minority Report all have it, and now so does BMW. At CES, the Bavarian brand unveiled the BMW iX Flow. This special version of the electric BMW iX uses E-Ink to change colors in real-time. For now, things are a bit limited, with black, grey, and white the only options. Moreover, it's not yet ready for mass release. This is purely a concept.

Regardless, it's cool tech that BMW is making a whole hell of a lot cooler. Right now, BMW is testing a feature that will allow users to change the color of the iX Flow with their minds. Munich-based startup brainboost is responsible for the tech. The one-off event took place at an event to raise awareness for mental health. In short, the technology "projects" your brain waves onto the skin of the iX, with the changes illustrated by the iX's paint.

BMW
BMW
Tom Kirkpatrick; BMW Group
Tom Kirkpatrick; BMW Group

It's not quite mind control, but it's pretty close. "The color patterns of the BMW iX Flow react to brain activity and reflect the level of activity," explains brainboost CEO Philipp Heiler. "Once the brain is at rest, the changes of patterns on the iX Flow also become calmer and more rhythmical." If users could maintain this state of calmer brain activity, a unique animation would flash across the car's surface.

As a result, subjects were able to slowly but surely calm and relax their brains. Progress was measured by an electroencephalograph (EEG), which record's the brain's electrical activity. brainboost says the idea behind the exercise was to identify which strategies worked best to help the participants relax, with the hope they carry that information forward into their personal lives.

BMW
BMW
BMW
Tom Kirkpatrick; BMW Group
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So, this was really more of a thought study (pun very much intended), but the technology is cool nonetheless. It's certainly a long way off, but perhaps one day we'll be able to change our car's color with a simple thought. While the idea of cars that work like mood rings is cool, we might prefer a simple button. BMW continues work on the E-Ink technology, and we're hoping to see it in production cars over the coming years.

Tom Kirkpatrick; BMW Group
Tom Kirkpatrick; BMW Group
Tom Kirkpatrick; BMW Group
Tom Kirkpatrick; BMW Group
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