California will become the first state to test digital license plates after state officials agreed to introduce the technology. To start, the city will take delivery of 24 plates for its in-house fleet of vehicles.
The digital plates use the same technology found in Kindle eBook readers coupled with a wireless communication system. For a sizable sum and a monthly fee, the plates promise to save motorists the hassle of registering their vehicles in-person and purchasing physical sticker tags. The Sacramento Bee reported Monday the plates could even display personalized messages if the California DMV approves the option.
Similar to the digital license plates rolling out in Dubai, California's digital plates could also notify the vehicle's owner and local police if the car is stolen. At a minimum, the plates could tell police where the car is, or if the hardware has been detached.
Right now, the plates will not be available through the California DMV, but they will be for sale through auto dealerships. They won't be cheap. Dealers will likely sell the plate for $699, which does not include installation. Owners will also face a $7 monthly charge to keep the plates operating.
According to The Bee, drivers have already asked the same question we did: Why? Some motorists expressed concern that police or private companies would have the ability to track them and keep tabs on their movement. Neville Boston, founder of Reviver Auto, surmised most interest for the digital plates will likely come from vehicle fleet managers. Fleet vehicles could use the plates as digital billboards as well, though the plate number will still remain in the upper right corner.