Electronic License Plates? Yes, Really.
The things you find surfing the Internet. Like it says in the headline, you can now add license plates to the list of things that be connected to the Internet.
The RPlate, made by a company called Reviver, is a high-tech license plate, which is a phrase I never thought I'd hear, let alone say. It's a HD display with a LTE connection (for those who don't speak tech, that means it connects to a cell phone network just like a smartphone). The connectivity opens the door to some interesting options, which I'll get to in a little bit.
It comes in two varieties, battery-powered or wired into your car. You can set personalized messages to appear on both models, which makes sense, because the license plate frames we're all used to seeing won't work with these without some serious MacGyvering.
Now, why would we want this thing? Probably the most useful feature is that if the vehicle is stolen, you can use the app (because of course there's an app) to make the plates display the word 'STOLEN'. If someone opts for the hard-wired model, which comes with GPS, the owner will be able to track and locate the vehicle as well. Useful, indeed.
Another feature that some people might find useful is geofencing. As in, you can set it up to notify you if the vehicle leaves a defined area. For example, a parent tells their teenager, "You can use the car, but don't leave town". With this set up, if they do, the parent gets notified.
That's the good or useful stuff. Now let's talk the not-so good or useful. Currently, these are only legal in three states, Arizona, California, and most recently, Michigan, though the company is obviously hoping for nationwide availability eventually. Also, there's a monthly fee for the device and service. Understandable, but renewing your registration is expensive enough, adding a monthly fee on top of that isn't exactly going to encourage people to adopt this.
But that's just my opinion. What do you think? Is this something you'd like to see become more commonplace, or is it unnecessary?