BMW's new gaming chair concept is halfway to a car

BMW Rivalworks The Rival Rig gaming chair concept from the side with gaming monitor
(Image credit: BMW, Rivalworks)
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BMW loves a wild gaming concept, and even if they never see the light of day I'll admit I'm happy to gawk at them, too. The car manufacturer's Designworks 'innovation studio' once worked with Asus on the extreme ROG Face Off gaming laptop concept (opens in new tab), and now its engineers have turned their attention to the world of gaming chairs with this: The Rival Rig gaming chair concept.

Or perhaps gaming throne is a better word for whatever this is. 

The Rival Rig is extreme in exactly the way you'd expect a chair dreamed up by a performance car manufacturer to be. It's state as having a "Microclimate Control System" and "Adaptive Seating", all of which is powered by an AI-controlled mesh of sensors, pneumatic air pads, and electro-mechanical actuators.

It's said to be tailored to players' health, and primarily aims to deliver a comfortable, performance-led design for optimal esports play. It's intended to shift and mould itself to the player, led by heaps of data collected by its many onboard sensors.

“The Rival Rig by BMW and Rivalworks, more than any other project before, was about pushing the boundaries of human capabilities," President of Designworks Holger Hampf says in a press release (via Golem (opens in new tab)). "What we wanted to achieve is a gaming rig design that takes both technology and aesthetics in this field to the next level. Our goal was to create the most comfortable seating, hand posture and head movement situation, that allow the gamer to fully immerse herself or himself and experience a sense of weightlessness. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for a designer to work on a project like this as we were able to play to extremes in terms of technology.”

When it's not doing all that, it's also at its core an open source design, meaning third-party hardware and software is welcome.

When it comes to physical design, it looks suitably space-age to fit in with your usual gaming hardware. According to Hampf, the chair was influenced by spaceships and Formula 1 cars, although I don't remember Lando Norris' McLaren MCL35M ever having that much RGB lighting. 

The large lighting strips down the spine of the chair should be suitably to gamers' tastes, at least. The lighting is also reactive, meaning it will reflect what's happening in game.

Hampf notes, "Major design choices we made for the rig were influenced by the aesthetics you typically find in games." I'm not sure what games these people are playing (not Stardew Valley, that's for sure), but 'typically' might be a slight generalisation.

Either way, it's a mix of practicality, ergonomics, and flashy 'because we could' design, then. I'd take a guess to say this chair will never see the light of day, but hey, if even one bit of it makes it from concept to product, I suppose that's time well spent.

At least it's fun to look at and dream of what could be—imagine, an AI whose primary responsibility is preventing me from slouching all day.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.