In-car entertainment is about to switch to a new level thanks to what BMW is calling its Theatre Screen. The reveal at CES 2022 isn't part of some fun marketing stunt or future-gazing; BMW plans to introduce the option to a series production car later this year, most likely in the forthcoming new 7 Series.
The Theatre Screen is a 31-inch ultra-wide display integrated into the headlining of the car. It electrically lowers into position by what BMW describes as a "sophisticated rotary movement on two articulated rails at the sides" to sit in front of the rear passengers. As the screen descends, a bespoke sound created by Hans Zimmer accompanies the operation and ends exactly when the screen reaches its final position.
The car also closes the side and rear window blinds and dims the ambient lighting to provide a more cinema-like experience. This setup should also prevent other drivers around the car being distracted by what you're watching. But just in case an accident does happen, the screen features a kinematic system to rapidly move it out of the way to mitigate the risk of injury to passengers.
Operation of the screen can be handled by the menu of the in-car entertainment system. Passengers can choose between control panels integrated into the door handles or touch fields on either edge of the screen, ensuring they are easily reachable. The 8K LCD screen can display in various formats, including 16:9, 21:9 and 32:9, with content trimmed depending on the zoom level. Backing up the picture quality is a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System. BMW will also offer high-grade wireless headphones if you prefer not to distract your driver.
BMW's partnership with Amazon
A partnership with Amazon will add the tech giant's Fire TV to the Theatre Screen. The streaming service will use a 5G connection to ensure high-resolution viewing on the move and seamless switching between the car and your home television, so you can pick up exactly where you left off. A 128GB storage drive and HDMI connectivity will also allow users to upload other media to the watch on the screen.
The BMW Theatre Screen doubles as a mobile office
For the titans of industry that can't spend commuting time binge-watching their favourite series, the Theatre Screen can also double up as a mobile conferencing centre. A built-in camera and 5G connectivity mean that video calls can be done from the comfort of the rear seat, presumably as they're being shuttled to their corporate jet.