BMW unveils Dee prototype, “the next level of human-machine interaction” – TechCrunch
BMW unveiled a prototype of the i Vision Dee concept car during the automaker’s keynote at CES on Wednesday night. The four-door hatchback took to the stage in crisp white, but later changed to a variety of colors and patterns to show off Dee’s E-Ink technology, which will allow car owners to configure the exterior of the car with 32 different colors.
Dee, despite being a concept car, is emblematic of BMW’s next-generation Neue Klasse platform, which the company says will launch in 2025 starting with a dynamic sedan and a sports activity vehicle.
The reveal featured a cute video involving Arnold Schwarzenegger reminiscing about the relationship people had with their cars in the 1980s while Dee’s voice (which by the way stands for Digital Emotional Experience) tried to convince the actor/politician that the cars of the future really are the ultimate companions.
Throughout the keynote, Dee’s voice served to personalize and humanize the car. At one point, BMW said Dee had a “digital soul, a personality not just with a voice but also with facial expressions.” This point was really highlighted by the following quote from the movie “The Terminator”: “The unknown future rolls our way. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope, because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.
So what is BMW trying to tell us here? Well, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse went so far as to call Dee “the next level of human-machine interaction, a concept that can’t just be dismissed as science fiction because it will inspire our Neue Klasse” .
Ever 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 an assortment of examples. Last year it was Amazon Fire streaming in vehicles and Google Home integrations, this year it seems to be in-car gaming. But BMW is stepping it up a notch by positing not only an emotional connection between man and car, but also a car that has its own emotions.
According to Zipse, BMW hopes to turn this vision into reality by combining software and hardware development for a seamless digital experience. That idea manifests in Dee’s heads-up display, with four levels of interaction, which BMW calls its “mixed reality slider.”
The first level provides all the driving and navigation data a driver would need. Level two facilitates communication by displaying text messages and calls. Level three brings the functionality of levels one and two and increases the navigation data on your windshield, including collision warnings and possible obstacles highlighted. He also views social media.
Level four goes “far beyond reality”. What does this actually mean? We’re not entirely sure, but the talking Dee said you can bring virtually all your friends in your car.
“Your friends, your family, even your pets without a single pet hair on the seat, which I love, in an endless virtual world,” she (?) said. “You can meet play, talk, love, hate. You can even go sightseeing together, right in your car. You wouldn’t believe what fits in your car in the future. It’s like being in your own personal disc at the cinema. But the film is your life.
Of course, that would probably be in a world where the windows could be darkened and the car drives autonomously.
The fact, however, is that BMW, like other automakers, is trying to add so many awesome and transparent technologies to its vehicles that people are really starting to see their cars as their ultimate companions – friend, lounge, personal assistant and fashionable aid all in one. Weird, isn’t it?