Digital number plates using E Ink displays have been made legal in California. As Ars Technica reported, this has come into effect in end-September when Governor Gavin Newsom gave legal accordance to Assembly Bill No. 984 which makes E Ink based digital number plates a legal alternative to the conventional metal number plates used so far. Such digital number plates have already been in use as per a pilot program running since 2018, which has now been made legal.
Also, such digital number plates are being referred to in the legislation as an ‘alternative device’. This perhaps is quite appropriate considering that it can well be used to display other related stuff as well. That includes an Amber Alert info or a suitable message to indicate if the vehicle has been stolen. The display is programmable via an app installed on the smartphone. This makes for a smart makeover for the conventional metal number plates used so far that remain static all through their life.
The law also lays down in clear terms all that needs to be done to use the E Ink number plates. For instance, any malfunctioning of the device is going to be considered a correctable violation, and that there have to be regular notifications served if such number plates encounter an error or have broken down completely. Further, ‘altering, forging, counterfeiting, or other hacking’ of the number plates would be considered an act of felony.
The law also makes it clear such number plates can’t be used to track others and prohibits the use of GPS units on personal vehicles for the same reason. However, commercial vehicle owners have some liberty here and are allowed to install digital number plates with integrated GPS. They are also allowed to ‘locate, track, watch, listen to’ their employees if that are absolutely necessary to keep a tab on their performance during working hours.
However, there happens to be a single manufacturer, Reviver at the moment that has the necessary license to produce such digital number plates. RPlate, as the E Ink number plates are referred to uses a monochrome E Ink panel that relies on Bluetooth low energy and LTE for its functioning. Also. the number plates are backed by a battery that is rated to last five years before requiring a replacement.
So far so good but the RPlate comes for a significant premium over its metal counterpart. In fact, the company has adopted a subscription plan wherein personal vehicle owners will have to pay a monthly fee of $19.95 for two years or $215.40 annually for four years. This makes things seem a bit easier on your pockets though the fee structure applicable in 2018, that of a one-time fee of $700 plus a monthly service fee of $7 could have been cheaper.
Fleet customers and commercial vehicle owners can opt for a wired model that includes backlighting and GPS but no Bluetooth and battery. It turns out to be $24.95 per month for two years or an annual fee of $275.40 to be paid for four years. Reviver said the number plates are protected by a special hardened cover that is six times stronger than glass.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in the world of technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles as well, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. Motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot and maybe I’ll make a film sometime in the future.