I'm Drivin' It: California Ponders Ad-Supported Electronic License Plates

California must really be strapped for cash. In a move to generate some revenue, the state is considering a bill to allow electronic advertisements to be placed on vehicle license plates.

Before your ass gets too puckered, I hear you – what about driver safety, right? Apparently, the ads will only play if a vehicle idles for more than four seconds, or is stopped entirely. The plate number would be visible perpetually in one form or another. That’s… slightly better, I guess.

“The idea is not to turn a motorist’s vehicle into a mobile billboard,” said Senator Curren Price, the guy behind the idea, “but rather to create a platform for motorists to show their support for existing good working organizations.” Conrad Jordan, chief executive of Smart Plate, a company currently experimenting with digital plate technology, added that drivers would be able to customize their plates with their own messages as well – essentially the next evolution of the bumper sticker. The tech could also be used to broadcast important info in an emergency.

Alright, so let’s stop and think about this for a moment. Your license plate is now digital – a screen. What if you’re a criminal? Your license plate is now potentially an easily-hackable device. It can read whatever registration number you want it to, easily slipping under the radar. And what about accidents? What about bad accidents? Your vehicle is suddenly a pain in the ass to identify, because your license screen went out. And what about when your vehicle isn’t on? Does the license plate go out? Does it stay on? Won’t that be bad for your vehicle’s battery in the long run? Won’t that stress you out, knowing that it was the ads that were playing on your minivan while you were in Wal-Mart killed your battery? I know you’re hurting for some revenue, California, but is this really the way to go about it? Granted, Smart Plate hasn’t begun production on a prototype, but they’ve got some really, really big puzzles to figure out before this tech is ready for prime time.

[Via Mercury News]

Written by Ty Dunitz

Ty is an illustrator who stays up too late, and has to wear glasses. You can follow him on Twitter if you want to (@glitchritual), but he's just gonna throw your stupid PR crap in the garbage, so don't email him.
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Comments
  • Jason

    This whole advertising thing is going waaaay to far.

  • alpha

    Ye not a great idea.

  • http://www.telltail.ie Michael Fleming

    Hi, I was intruiged to learn of this new technology.

    I already have a similar, but I believe far superior product on the market. My product has both the capacity for displaying digital messages (so it could in theory be used for advertising purposes) and also integrated vehicle tracking and immobilisation capabilities. The display is at the control of the owner of the vehicle and it can also be remotely activated, in the case of vehicle theft for example. It can be made to fit any type of licence plate, whether American, European etc. The unit itself is installed under the existing licence plate, the plate itself is visible at all times even when the unit is in use. Thus the issue with hacking into the electonic number plate for nefarious purposes does not apply.

    This product will be available in the US in late autumn and in Europe in August.

  • http://www.telltail.ie Michael Fleming

    website for this company is http://www.telltail.ie

  • Kevinsky

    If anyone puts ads on my car, the cheques better be made out to ME!