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BMW unveils Dee prototype, "the next level of human-machine interaction" • TechCrunch

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BMW unveiled a prototype for the i Vision Dee concept car during the automaker’s CES keynote on Wednesday night. The four-door sedan appeared on stage in a crisp white, but later transformed into a variety of colors and patterns to showcase Dee’s E-Ink technology, which will allow car owners to configure the car’s exterior with 32 different colors.

The Dee, while a concept car, is emblematic of BMW’s next-generation Neue Klasse platform, which the company said will launch in 2025 starting with a dynamic sedan and sports vehicle.

The reveal featured a cute video involving Arnold Schwarzenegger reminiscing about the relationship people had with their cars in the 1980s, while the voice of Dee (which by the way stands for Digital Emotional Experience) tried to convince the actor/politician that the cars of the future they really are the best companions.

Throughout the talk, Dee’s voice served to personalize and humanize the car. At one point, BMW said that Dee has a “digital soul, a personality not only with voice but also with facial expressions”. This point was really emphasized by the following quote from the movie “The Terminator”: “The unknown future rolls towards us. I face this for the first time with a feeling of hope, because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe so can we.”

So what is BMW trying to tell us here? Well, Oliver Zipse, CEO of BMW, went so far as to call Dee “the next level of human-machine interaction, a concept that cannot simply be dismissed as science fiction because it will inspire our Neue Klasse”.

Since the “software-defined vehicle” began to take hold, automakers have been looking for new ways to use this software to create a more personalized experience for drivers and passengers. CES always provides a hodgepodge of examples. Last year it was all about Amazon Fire streaming coming to vehicles and Google Home integrations, this year it looks to be about in-car gaming. But BMW is raising the bar by positing not just an emotional connection between human and car, but also a car that has emotions of its own.

I Vision Dee BMW concept car in various colors

Dee’s E-Ink exterior means the car can change to 32 different colors and a variety of patterns. Image credits: BMW

One way BMW hopes to turn this vision into reality is by combining software and hardware development for a seamless digital experience, according to Zipse. This idea manifests itself in Dee’s head-up display, with four levels of interaction, which BMW calls a “mixed reality slider”.

Level one brings all the driving and navigation data a driver needs. Level two helps with communication by showing text messages and calls. Level three brings the features of levels one and two and increases navigation data to your windshield, including collision warnings and highlighted potential obstacles. It also views social media.

Level four goes “far beyond reality”. What does it really mean? We’re not sure, but talkative Dee said you could bring all your friends into the car virtually.

“Your friends, your family, even your pets without a single animal hair on the seat, which I absolutely love, in an endless virtual world,” she said(?). “You can find play, talk, love, hate. You can even go for a walk together, inside the car. You wouldn’t believe what fits in your car in the future. It’s like being on your own personal drive to the movies. But the film is his life.”

Of course, this would likely happen in a world where the windows could be tinted and the car would drive autonomously.

The point, though, is that BMW, like other automakers, is trying to add so much awesome and flawless technology to its vehicles that people really start to see their cars as their best companions – friend, living room, personal assistant and assistant. fashion, all in one. Weird, isn’t it?

Read more about CES 2023 on TechCrunch