Green Technology

Samsung & MINI Bring Their Giant Android Watch To A Gaming Expo

Like all manufacturers, BMW is trying to set its MINI EVs apart from the competition. Tesla was the first manufacturer to bring big displays with full-on computer UIs to vehicle interiors, and was in such a rush to beat the competition to that milestone that the company initially used displays that couldn’t handle the heat. But, the gamble paid off, and it managed to get the whole industry to accept large touchscreens (and build better ones that survive). Now, everyone else has to both do what Tesla is doing, while also not just copying Tesla.

BMW decided to set the latest MINI EVs apart with a radical round display unit in the middle of the dashboard. The company calls it the “Mini Interaction Unit.”

The round OLED display, measuring 240mm (about 9.5″) in diameter, boasts vibrant and captivating colors that seamlessly merge into the interior of the new MINI family. Strategically positioned within the cabin, this display ensures optimal comfort and usability for both the driver and the front passenger, enhancing the overall driving experience.

“We are taking a massive leap into the digital world with the new MINI family and, in so doing, underscoring the charismatic heritage of the brand. The iconic central display in the new MINI family is round and will be filled with round content for the first time. I am convinced that the digital power of the new models will delight MINI customers around the world,” said Stefanie Wurst, Head of the MINI brand.

The vehicle is powered by a highly advanced and customized Android operating system known as the MINI Operating System 9. Developed in-house by the BMW Group, this operating system is built on the foundation of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) software stack. With its intuitive operation, the MINI Operating System 9 seamlessly integrates with the user experience, following the familiar standards found in modern consumer electronics. So, MINI says, anybody familiar with a smartphone should feel at home using the MINI’s round display.

The start menu, located at the center of the screen, allows users to select and launch personalized content by swiping to the side. At the bottom of the screen, there is a fixed status bar that includes menu items such as Navigation, Media, Telephony, All Apps, and, depending on the situation, Home. Users can directly select these options as needed.

Swiping up from the lower edge of the screen reveals a convenient “tool belt,” a familiar feature found on many consumer electronics devices. The tool belt allows users to store and quickly access their favorite functions, including navigation destinations and radio stations. Alternatively, customers can activate the tool belt using the star button on the multifunction steering wheel. The upper screen area is dedicated to displaying driving-relevant content, such as vehicle speed and important vehicle status information. For enhanced driver convenience, the optional head-up display presents key information directly within the driver’s field of view.

Like many other automotive UIs, it’s customizable. It has different modes to fit the wants of different drivers, and other vehicle settings, like the color of interior lighting and trim lighting, follow the UI’s settings. There’s a “Go-Kart” mode for sporty driving, a “green” mode that focuses on efficiency, a “balanced” mode for normal driving, and even a “trail” mode for outdoor explorers driving the Countryman crossover.

It also comes with built-in EV navigation and trip planning tools, games, and entertainment, and even a store to buy new apps for the car’s display, making it like a giant smart watch that lives in the car. Plus, MINI is offering OTA updates.

Samsung & MINI Want To Appeal To Gamers With This

Prior to the official launch of the new MINI family at the IAA MOBILITY 2023, MINI will provide a sneak peek of the MINI Interaction Unit. Because it was developed in collaboration with Samsung Display Corporation, Samsung is getting in on showing it off, too. For the gamescom exhibition, MINI wanted to mimic what people see on TV, and create something akin to a high tech digital laboratory (at least the fake ones we see on TV).

Image provided by BMW/MINI.

MINI sponsored the gamescom merchandise area for the second time and also sponsors the Cosplay Awards at the world’s largest gaming event. From August 23 to 27, 2023, gamescom will bring together gaming fans from all over the world in a 230,000 square meter exhibition area at Koelnmesse.

“MINI is a great fit for gamescom, because MINI is an experience and community brand. Last year, the MINI Concept Aceman was the focus of our presence.” said Stefanie Wurst, Head of MINI. “This year, we want to focus on the technical highlight in the interior of our new MINI family, our round OLED display, through a playful and digital experience. Science fiction as an ode to the future is the perfect setting for our innovations.”

At gamescom, visitors can explore the MINI Lab in Hall 5.2 and witness MINI’s support for the cosplay community. Renowned cosplayer Ben Bergmann, also known as Maul Cosplay, represents MINI as a judge at the Cosplay Awards. The award winners will be invited to MINI UNITED, the exclusive launch party for the new MINI family.

In the press release, MINI says it then plans to take the show to IAA mobility, where the sci-fi theme will continue. There, MINI says, it’ll transplant the brains of the new MINI into actual cars, like a mad scientists might do in a fancy Hollywood laboratory.

One Neat Takeaway

The fact that MINI is showcasing an automotive display at a gaming convention really shows how different the automotive industry has become. The company is not trying to appeal to car buyers directly, instead trying to appeal to other demographics who might like what’s new and exciting about the vehicles. In this case, it’s a great fit because the gaming computers are starting to appear inside of cars, and make not just for games you’d play at the charging station, but also for exciting features you can use to make the drive itself more visually appealing and enjoyable.

This probably ties a lot into the need to appeal to younger car buyers. Automotive manufacturers are finding that what appealed to past generations of vehicle owners just isn’t cutting it today.

Featured image provided by BMW/MINI.


I don’t like paywalls. You don’t like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don’t like paywalls, and so we’ve decided to ditch ours.

Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It’s a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So …