From 3D gel style number plates manufactured in a polyurethane gel to give the letters a raised profile, to 4D number plates with blocky, laser cut acrylic letters that stand out on the road – there’s always something new and exciting in the automotive sector. For the duration of this article though, we’re forgetting about 3D and 4D plates – it’s all about digital.
Digital number plates, alternatively known as E-plates, have become a hot topic recently. The United States has been trialling the new revolutionary plates over the last few years. They feature radio frequency identification tagging (RFID), which allows instant car identification, similar to the UK’s ANPR cameras (automatic number plate recognition). Sounds quite intelligent, right?
Currently, only two states in America allow digital license plates: California and Arizona. They have been produced by Reviver, a company established in 2009 that is aiming to put its foot down to entice US drivers to test the new E-plates. They’ve been a roaring success so far, with drivers wanting to know more about how the technology works, and how it’s beneficial to go digital rather than have the standard plates attached to your vehicle.
Digital number plate technology might soon arrive in the UK too, but many drivers have doubts and fears. The UK’s first digital plate is being developed by iPlate. We bet you’re thinking, how does a digital number plate work exactly?
The iPlate will work with smart devices and the iPlate app, which will be available to download after testing. They are currently in phase 2 of testing, and the official launch date is January 2023.
It is set to replace the conventional, standard number plates, but we have yet to determine if this is optional or a requirement by law on all UK vehicles. From the innovative, smart technology needed, it could just be a new addition to future vehicles being manufactured – but who knows! Although it’s a cool new addition to the automotive industry, it’s a fairly expensive one too.
The Benefits of Digital Number Plates
Although drivers may find smart number plates worrisome, with privacy concerns, many benefits come with a digital registration plate. Please see below a full list of benefits!
- Live GPS tracking of your vehicle means that if your car is stolen, or you’ve somehow lost it in a multi-storey parking lot, you can track it wherever it may be!
- If your car has been stolen, the iPlate, in particular, features SmartConnect. This connects you to the police and other local authorities.
- In addition to the above, if your vehicle has been stolen, the plate will glow red to advise other road users and authorities – helping the police to recover stolen vehicles quicker.
- The plate is made from strong military-grade polydicyclopentadiene plastic, meaning it’s durable and hard-wearing. No longer are the days where your plastic plate will fall off and you’ll have to purchase a new one.
- It also features anti-jitter technology, which helps to reduce theft of your number plate for thieves to steal and use on other vehicles, otherwise known as number plate cloning.
If you think about it, although it’s ultimately a live tracker for your vehicle, so is your phone, your laptop, iPad and any other tech you have lying around. As technology evolves worldwide, so does the automotive industry. And if you’re a big car enthusiast that takes great pride in your car, at least a digital number plate reduces the risk of it being stolen. As an added bonus, it also adds to the aesthetic appeal of your car.
Are Digital Number Plates a Privacy Concern?
Like everything else that is digital in the world, there are concerns about how smart plates could be vulnerable to hackers. Digital plates will be fitted with state-of-the-art cyber security systems similar to those used for online banking. So if you can trust your phone with your online banking, you should be able to trust a number plate that has been in production and testing for more than six years or so.
Although iPlate is developing the E-plate in the UK, the DVLA has announced that they won’t be transferred to the new system for quite a while as the current system in the UK works effectively. We suspect that even when the DVLA adopts E-plates, they will still have to meet the rules and regulations regarding the styling, spacing, and overall look of the plates on vehicles.