The New York Times says the license plate is getting a makeover.
It appears there are several tech companies looking to take the traditional metal license plate and – just as we do with almost everything – digitize it.
There seem to be more pros than cons, but no doubt some objections will be raised. But before we go down that road, let’s start with the good:
The company Reviver Auto uses the same technology that’s in e-reader displays like the Kindle and Nook, and the image can remain fixed even if the unit loses power.
Using digital screens instead of slabs of metal will make it easy to connect vehicles to a larger system within the DOT, allowing for automatic updates when your registration fees are paid. No one will miss the sticker.
Digital screens also mean the image can be static, therefore if your car is stolen your license plate can actually say that. Images can also be added for emergency scenarios like Amber Alerts, or for vehicles to provide information on road hazards to the cars behind them. RFID technology could even help package your plates with automatic tollway payment accounts – like the Illinois i-Pass, for example – so you wouldn’t need to dig up a transponder.
So now that we’ve sold you on the benefits, here are all the reasons you’re not going to want one. First of all: cost. While the plates could save a lot of money for your state DOT because they could cease sending paper notices and stickers to everyone in their state, you would actually absorb that by paying $700 for the Reviver digital plates, along with a $75 annual fee to stay connected to your state’s cellular transportation network.
The company says it should get the price down dramatically, and soon, but one of the ways they want to do that is through allowing advertisers to promote their messaging on vehicles when they’re parked.
One of the other companies delving into this market, Compliance Innovations, wants to digitize just a portion of the standard plate for a much lower investment, and sees other ways to defray the costs: they say that digital plates provide a much easier way for police to bust you if you’re not registered or insured, meaning compliance should go up and insurance premiums should go down.