California tests digital license plates. Is tracking cars next?

Alex Roy’s father had a saying:

Anything is possible, but not everything is necessary.

Some would say you could apply this sentiment to the the Internet of Things (IoT). You could certainly apply it to the Rplate: “the world’s first digital license plate and cloud app store.”

Yes, now we can add license plates to the pile of “do we really need xyz IoT thing,” which already includes internet-enabled fridges, toasters, washing machines and coffee makers.

Roy, editor of a website called The Drive, points out that contrary to the manufacturer’s claim, the Rplate isn’t the first digital license plate.

But it is, in fact, the one that California is now piloting.

The IoT sitting inside your car’s license plate: what could possibly go wrong? But let’s start with this question: Why?

As the Sacramento Bee reports, California is the first state to adopt the digital plates. A pilot project was launched last week. Sacramento is also scheduled to start testing the plates on some of the cars in the city’s fleet.

The plates will enable those motorists who choose to buy them (the digital plates aren’t required, and they’re certainly not cheap; think in the ballpark of $699, plus installation fees, plus a monthly fee of about $7) to electronically register their vehicles. That means no more stickers that you have to slap onto your plates every year. If the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) decides to allow it, the plates will also be able to display personal messages that car owners can change at will.

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