BMW shows off colour shifting car at CES

A BMW electric SUV
(Image credit: BMW)

Next level RGB is here, but for right now it’s only on this BMW, as opposed to a sweet gaming rig. Though with the current chip shortage, I have about the same amount of chance of getting my hands on either, so lets drool over this cool colour changing paint job.

According to The Drive, BMW boasted that a car would be on display at CES this year that could change colours at the touch of a button. Now, videos have surfaced (thanks IFLScience) of the colour changing car in action, and it’s simultaneously a bit cooler and nowhere near as cool as I’d hoped. A bit like Dave James wearing the Razer Zephyr mask.

The first video, posted to Twitter, shows BMW's all electric IX model's panels flowing from white to a dark gunmetal looking grey. So not exactly colour changing so much as shifting between shades so far, but it’s still very neat. 

The post states that the tech is apparently quite temperature sensitive, which is going to be a barrier to releasing it to consumers. Though it’s not stated how it works, it could be that temperature plays a part in determining the colours so that could be part of the reason why. Others are suggesting it could use e-ink, kind of like a Kindle which could be true given the grey shade palette.

The way the colour shifts in this particular video looks almost similar to the way various sea creatures can shift their own colours and textures to keep themselves hidden. You can almost see this car hiding in a tunnel and changing colours to escape a five star rating. Here’s a video of one of my favourites, the Mimic Octopus who can simply do far more than an Octopus should.

The second video, which can be found on TikTok and was reposted to Reddit shows a more blanket approach to the transformation. The car this time appears to fade straight from white to the darker grey. Given these two different transitions there could be potential for customisations on how the colours shift, or maybe even for animations down the line.

bmws_color_changing_car_shown_at_ces from r/blackmagicfuckery

Colour shifting tech on the actual physical exterior of things like cars or devices is a move I’ve been looking forward to. I’m already a big fan of messing with RGB to give my setup a complete look, so this is a step in the right direction. being able to change the overall look of your laptop, phone, desktop, or anything really at the touch of the button would make for instant and easy restyling. We likely won’t see it in consumer grade tech for a long while to come, but I’ll be first inline when we do.

Hope Corrigan
Hardware Writer

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast right here. No, she’s not kidding.