BMW unveiled a pair of concept cars at the Consumer Electronics Show that show off how future cars might respond to the moods of their owners, with moods of their own.
The two cars, which look basically the same, are both called the i Vision Dee concept. Dee stands for Digital Emotional Experience. One version of the car has, literally, color-changing body panels.
BMW showed off a “color-changing” concept vehicle at CES last year but that only changed into various shades of gray. This year, the i Vision Dee changes through a full palette of colors with different parts of the car body showing different colors all at once. Even the wheels change color.
The other i Vision Dee concept was built to show off new ideas for the “user interface,” which is how drivers and passengers interact with the vehicle. In this case, the “user interface” doesn’t just mean from inside the car.
Even the outside, the front of the car, the area around the headlights and the “grille” – which, on this car, is really a display panel – can exhibit different shapes and hues, creating something like facial expressions. The car can show different moods or reactions, such as approval, happiness or astonishment, according to BMW.
The car also has a head-up display, of course, but, in the i Vision Dee concept, the display stretches across the entire windshield. This particular feature is something BMW said it plans to put into actual production vehicles beginning in 2025.
As with other head-up displays, the projected images, which could include navigation cues or more involved images, would normally be mostly transparent.
In the concept car, images can be projected, but onto the side windows, as well. For instance, the driver can select a digital avatar that can be projected onto the side window as part of a greeting display as the driver approaches the vehicle.
The type of content, from basic driving information to cartoon characters, that is shown in the windshield and window displays is controlled using a slider control on the dashboard that is, itself, merely a projection. Rather than having a physical control or a permanent touchscreen, the “Mixed Reality Slider,” as BMW calls it, is projected onto the dashboard while sensors on the surface detect a finger sliding across the control.
With the control, a user can select from five different levels of digital content in the window displays. The levels range from just the most basic driving information to augmented reality information relating to what’s outside – all the way to fully virtual worlds that obscure everything outside. (Presumably the fully virtual experience is for use when the car is not being driven.)
The i Vision Dee is a sedan rather than an SUV, like last year’s CES concept, because the sedan remains “at the core of the BMW brand,” the automaker said in its announcement.