Updatable License Plate Could Alert The Police When A Vehicle Is Stolen

While it’s normally quite easy for someone to act natural while driving a stolen car – the situation might be more difficult if it’s equipped with an updatable license plate and flashing the words “STOLEN”.

A small company in South Carolina is attempting to introduce electronic license plates for the state’s cars and trucks. The idea could easily be extended to other words such as “UNINSURED” and “UNTAXED”.

The updatable license plates us electrophoretic displays – the same material that is made to use e-reader devices such as the Kindle and Nook. They are currently black-and-white, and despite their slow refresh rates, have a surprisingly sharp resolution, while using virtually no battery power.

This particular display gathers kinetic energy from the movement of the car over the road, or solar energy, which it uses only when it needs to change.

Once the technology reaches a point where it can display color, the updatable license plates would be even more prominent. Flashing signs telling passersby that the car is stolen would likely provide the proper incentive for them to call the police.

Apart from the crime-related benefits, an electronic updatable license plate could have interesting applications when it comes to license plate renewals. Drivers would no longer be required to visit the DMV to get a new plate, instead they could do all the paperwork online.


This would save a lot of queuing and mean that it would only require a wireless connection for the plate to be updated with all the necessary information.

One potential issue is that of security – it’s unsure how easy it would be to steal vehicle details, or change license plates completely. The idea is still in the proposal stage, so these issues would likely be addressed at a later stage.

Would you want to save time queueing at the DMV by getting your hands on an updatable license plate?

Image via Autoblog