What Are Digital License Plates and Will They Drive Us Forward?

Digital license plates could be the next big thing in the automotive industry.

The auto industry is always looking for new gimmicks to impress the client. However, when it comes to performance and design, it seems we’ve reached a limit. So, it is only natural that producers would focus their efforts in other areas, such as the license plate. Combining ingenuity and the development of smart roads and smart cars, that’s where the digital license plate comes in.

This small but important element on our vehicle was first introduced in circulation in the 1890s, and once it reached the shape we know today it didn’t change. While it’s true that the model used right now is quite effective, with the development of new technologies, there is room for advancement.

So, with progress in mind, the idea of digital license plates was born.

What Exactly are Digital Plates?

The device is very similar in aspect to the standard plates, but it is not designed using a sheet of metal or plastic. Instead, the digital plat has three major components:

  • A bi-stable monochromatic display
  • A motherboard
  • A replaceable battery

All these elements are protected by a durable glass cover and a back plate, that keep the internals from getting damaged by dust or humidity. At a first glance, the Rplate, designed by Reviver Auto, California, blends well in the crowd of regular plates.

However, the uses for this device are quite interesting, since the motherboard supports an RFID and GPS chip and an LTE data connection. This means you can keep track of your vehicle at all times (in case it gets stolen or you forget where you parked), and the data connection allows your car to communicate with the department of motorized vehicles in your country.

For now, it may not seem like a big deal; especially considering the hefty price tag ($700 for the Pro version). However, in time, the benefits will show.

The Benefits Digital Plates Bring

Since most drivers can’t seem to fathom why they would pay that much for a license plate, here are some of the perks we should be watching for:

Easier to Change

Right now, the Rplate supports a data connection, which allows the authorities to communicate with it. For the moment, the only purpose of this feature is to send various messages (from the authorities to your plate) that could be of public interest.

In the future though, we hope it will reduce the hassle of changing the plates. You won’t have to use that many papers for a new plate, which will make it easier to get personalized plates. You can learn more about these in this post from Absolute Reg. Furthermore, the waiting time for new plates will be completely eliminated, as the authorities will be able to change your plates with one click.

Fewer Traffic-Related Illegalities

The good aspect of this type of plate is that it can communicate. Thus, it can let drivers and the authorities know when a car is on the road without proper insurance. The same can happen if the vehicle is searched by the authorities or if it was involved in a crime.

The communication will happen via messages or light signals (depending on the established procedure). The feature is not yet available on the current model, but it is in the development plans of the device.

Inter-car Communication

In a world where all vehicles use digital license plates (personalized or not), the cars will be able to communicate with each other. So, if there’s a traffic jam ahead, the vehicle in front could send a message to the ones behind, letting their drivers know about the situation.

This feature can come in handy in a wide array of situations, but for now, it’s still an idea. Also, the companies working on the self-driving car had a similar idea, so we’ll have to see which gets there faster.

Will it Drive Us Forward?

The digital plate is a device worthy of the future and, given the potential it packs, it is most likely to stick around. We’re looking forward to seeing improved and cheaper versions of the model that is today only available in California.

About the author – Jake Smith is a founder of Absolutereg.co.uk and a major gearhead. He loves to write on a wide range of automotive topics. 

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