Michigan puts digital license plates on the road

January 18, 2019

Following their high-tech debut in California last year, Michigan's Secretary of State on Thursday green-lighted the roll-out of digital license plates by the end of 2019.  

The digital plates are made by Reviver Auto and use the same technology as those now legal in California and Arizona. 

Called the Rplate, the technology's display is similar to the screens found in Amazon e-readers and can display a white background with black letters or the inverse. The technology is designed to keep glare to a minimum.

The plates have a few tricks of their own.

READ THIS: California's new $700 digital license plates can relay messages to other drivers

For one, can digitally renew their registration, which means that they can skip a visit to the department of motor vehicles. Their digital design allows for a number of custom designs, too. Reviver showed plates with breast cancer awareness designs and support for the Red Cross in a debut video.

Another feature that may raise eyebrows is "targeted messaging," which is a way to display advertisements on the license plate. The plate's numbers can be minimized to leave more room for an ad when the car is parked. It's not clear if Michigan would allow vehicle owners to opt into or out of ads, however. 

ALSO SEE: Dubai's new "smart" license plates can communicate with onlookers

In the future, Reviver plans to add even more futuristic features for those who opt into digital plates. The plates will be able to show a registration has expired with an "X" where the tag normally sits, display Amber Alerts for missing children, swap the screen to become a temporary tag, show a valid parking permit for the driver, and even provide weather advisories.

Perhaps most useful given Michigan has a relatively high rate of vehicle theft is a mode to display when a car has been stolen.

Michigan hasn't said how much the plates will cost, but in California, they aren't cheap. Drivers there pay $700 for the digital plates.

Texas and Florida have also passed legislation to put the digital plate tech on the road.

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