BMW Theater Screen supersizes rear seat entertainment at CES

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In addition to color-changing paint technology, BMW unveiled a new concept for rear-facing entertainment at CES. Say hello to the BMW Theater screen.

The “Theatre Screen” is a 31-inch 8K ultra-wide screen on which those in the back seat can enjoy movies or TV. BMW says the aim is to provide a cinematic experience with the ultra-wide screen, as the screen is in 32:9 format. This isn’t just a concept either, as BMW appears to be fully on board to bring such a screen into its production vehicles.

The screen pops out of the headliner via a twisting motion (see video above) and the photos show it extending from one headrest to the other. You can adjust the angle of the screen according to your recline angle. BMW says it’s working with Amazon, so you can expect the screen to work like a Fire TV. All the details have not yet been fully worked out, but BMW promises the same functionality as you would expect from a Fire TV for the home. You can operate the screen via touch controls or via touchpads that BMW integrates into the rear doors. If the content you’re viewing doesn’t fit the size, BMW says you can choose to resize it on screen or zoom and crop it.

To complement the theatrical display, BMW is pairing the screen with its new Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound system. The unfolding of the screen is designed to be an event in itself, as Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer created the sounds it makes when it unfolds. Once in place, the roller blinds are done with their journey upwards and the mood lighting in the rear is dimmed. BMW isn’t saying whether the giant screen will be paired with a digital rear-view mirror, but it appears that it may be necessary given the screen’s placement in the driver’s rear view. We also don’t know which BMW vehicles the Theater Screen will launch on, but we’re interested in giving it a try once it’s rolled out. And if you’re concerned about streaming 8K over a data connection (we would be too), BMW says it will pair the display with 5G connectivity.

BMW Art

In addition to the big screen, BMW also announced a new “Digital Art Mode” for its iDrive infotainment system. The Digital Art Mode, coming to BMW vehicles in 2022, will allow you to set up your infotainment in different art themes. Designed by Cao Fei, a Chinese multimedia artist, the themes influence in-car screens and the associated mood lighting.

BMW isn’t saying any specific car will get the option, but the photos suggest it’s an iDrive 8 feature, as demonstrated in the BMW iX. The 2023 iX M60, also unveiled at CES, will be the first BMW to get it, with other models set to get it later in 2022.

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