Dimensions of Real
The Birth of a Meta-Vehicle

How Real Is Real?

For the longest time humanity has been experiencing reality (mostly) through the physical world. But our perception of what’s real is changing. Rapidly expanding towards the digital realm. This brave new digital world may be existing in a parallel dimension but it is as real as gravity. Digital culture is growing exponentially, taking over more industries, more markets, more demographics. And it’s only a matter of time before we find our future selves living a life that is a hyper-blend of physical and digital dimensions.

“The digital touchpoint is actually becoming the first touchpoint before any kind of exposure to anything physical.”
Charles Drueco, Creative Director, Interaction Design, LA Studio

Dimensions of Real

Captured at CES 2022 in Las Vegas, NV

Forget the Engine, Forget Seating, Forget Physics.

Design is an emotional experience. That has been particularly true for pretty much everything BMW ever made. It’s hard to look at a BMW car and feel nothing. But what if there’s no physical vehicle involved? Can design still evoke feelings? Can it still create strong emotional connections with people? Spoiler alert, yes and yes.

Our task for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 was to explore the idea of a digital concept car. To figure out what vehicle design could be if we moved away from the physical constraints of needing an engine. Or passengers. How does it look? How does it behave? And most importantly, how does it make people feel?

“As we moved through the project, it almost became less about the car, and more about the sensory experience you get in the space.”
Martin Francisco, Senior Strategist, Creative Consulting, LA Studio

Physically Impossible to Digitally Unstoppable

Digital design allows us to do impossible things. Like using gravity and anti-gravity as a design material. Or video glitches as a color. But the real magic is the fact that digital design can evolve, and change, and evoke different emotions. It is almost alive in a way. It reacts to you. It learns from you. It can actively understand you. And curate an experience that is tailor-made just for you. It can help brands come to life in ways that were impossible before. But it does raise a valid question. In a world where brands can be anything, what will they choose to be?

Dimensions of Real is neither a product, nor a feature. Even though it’s inspired by one. It’s an immersive installation that invited people to experience the world of BMW Digital Design as active participants. Taking users out of the role of the passive observer and turning them into co-creators of their own experience.

“We’re the first to bring a custom-designed concept car to a digital-only interactive experience. Where the aesthetic isn’t dictated by the design team but a conversation with the user.”
Paul Ferraiolo, Associate Director, Advanced Design & Design Strategy, LA Studio

Part I – Flipping BMW My Modes Inside Out

The aesthetics of the world were inspired by BMWs current and future My Modes; A digital feature that activates different user experiences within the vehicle, such as Sport, Efficient, Personal, Relax and Expressive.

Our approach was to take My Modes out of the confinement of the screens and turn them into a world that you, the user could live in. A space you could walk through and experience with all your senses.

Guests interacting with the Calm Scene
“We wanted to bring the digital into the physical and vice versa. Not just transport someone to the metaverse, but really find a way to experience the digital in a physical space.”
Charles Drueco, Creative Director, Interaction Design, LA Studio
A visitor experiences the Infinity Room in solitude, immersed in interactive graphics.

Part II – A Journey to the Wow Dimension

The journey ends in the Infinity Room. Unlike the other three worlds, here your presence is removed from the experience. The space is covered with LED panels and angled mirrors, so when someone stands in the middle of this room, they are unable to see themselves in the reflections. The idea is that you go in and it’s not you reflected in that space. It’s not us telling you something, it’s you, experiencing something yourself.

A group of people experiencing the Infinity Room.

Instead, the visitor is surrounded by vehicle design elements that were created in the previous three worlds. A sort of dream scape of all past experiences. With the help of generative design, these elements were rendered in real time into a surreal vehicle design, that is unique to each visitor. You could stay the whole day in that room and never see the same design twice.

Dimensions of Real is a very robust tech experience that couldn’t have happened without the talent and support of Universal Everything.  The experts in artistic digital experiences, who helped bring the live computing and visualization to life. While legendary composer Hans Zimmer helped us translate his “IconicSounds electric” work into the dynamic and reactive audioscape that visitors experience at each stage of the journey.

Representation of a virtual car at Dimensions of Real

Dude, where’s the car?

Why is BMW doing this? Why go all digital? Are some of the things we got asked a lot during the event. Apparently, some people were uncomfortable with the fact that there was no physical car. But here’s the thing. We know how to build a car. In fact, automotive design is something we are extremely comfortable with. But neither our job, nor our role is to be comfortable. Our responsibility is not to get all warm and fuzzy with design but to push its limits further. To push products, features, and experiences ahead. And the truth is you just don’t get ahead by getting comfortable.

“There’s going to be a dramatic shift in the next couple decades, with electrification and autonomous driving. And mobility companies are going to have to redefine themselves and come up with a new value propositions.”
Charles Drueco, Creative Director, Interaction Design, LA Studio
Visitor experiencing the Infinity Room.

Future, Bring It On

Don’t mean to be dramatic but there’s a lot of unknowns in terms of where the future of mobility companies is going. Intimidating? Maybe. But then again, exploring a world where you’re not driving, a world where you might be in a vehicle that is in the real world, or maybe not in the real world, is exciting.

And what’s even more exciting is the fact that we will be able to co-create these experiences together with our users. Experiences that are much more intimate. More personal. More on-point.

So, yeah. There might be a lot of unknowns. But we are ok with that.