A Simple Guide to Digital License Plates

Monday June 4, 2018


In the automobile segment, from in-vehicle infotainment to driver assist system, all have undergone a massive revolution with the help of technology, except those tin or plastic license plates.

But now, these plates too have become digitized (digital license plates) after the advancement in the wireless technology segment.

What is a Digital License Plate?

Digital License Plate or Smart License Plate is a tech furnished plate which may replace the ordinary tin or plastic license plate in the automobile.

It is usually 6” by 12” plate that looks like a kindle or an iPad. The screen on it which is black and white displays the relevant information like license plate number, state name and expiration date of the registration number.

The plate gives a new way to the user to customize its vehicle, for example, letting him add personal messages or a mention of his favorite causes and charities.

The plate also gives authorities a new way to broadcast weather updates and emergency messages. One can also add embellishments, such as university or favorite sports team logo on the screen to flaunt him/her self.

How Does A Digital License Plate Work?

One of the primary objectives of the Digital License Plate is to streamline and thus simplify the process of registration renewals. These electronic plates are wirelessly connected to the cloud.

Therefore, if the user wants to update his license registration, he/she can quickly update it by visiting the online portal of the concerned dealer.

By paying the registration fee online, he can promptly update his registration number. This helps in avoiding the hustle and bustle of the offline process.

Registration can also be done on a monthly basis rather than on an annual basis as there is no sticker involved.

At the time of an emergency, the authorities of the concern departments can also use the portal to display the emergency messages on all the digital plates to warn the people of that particular area.

One can also transfer the ownership of the vehicle through an online portal.

What Are Its Applications And Advantages?

In day to day life, Digital License Plate has a broad range of applications.

First, it can make use of the stickers on the license plate obsolete by making the online registration process feasible with the help of the portal.

Therefore, now there is no need to go to the office of Department of the Motor Vehicle, standing in the queue there and waiting for your turn.

Also, if the user does not renew the registration in that case the screen displays a big cross sign (*) at the top right corner which can easily be identifiable by the law and enforcement authorities.

Second, the embedded GPS system inside the plate (which is optional) allows the user to track the vehicle thus if a car is stolen, GPS tracking can be used to figure out the vehicle’s whereabouts.

GPS and transmitters also able to inform emergency services, in case the drive met with an accident.

Third, in the time of emergency situations, the plates give authorities a new way to broadcast weather updates and emergency messages, for example, a flash flood warning or an AMBER Alert.

Thus, it can adeptly be used in the emergency circumstances to forewarn the people so that they can pre-emptively take actions to avoid any trouble.

Last but not the least, these plates can act as fertile ground to perform marketing activities.

When a car is parked its digital plates can display advertisements for which the motorist would be compensated in exchange for free or discounted services like registration renewals from the dealership.

Which Technologies Are Used For Digital License Plates?

Digital License Plate features protective glass which prevents the screen from wear and tear, wireless Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology which helps in high-speed wireless communication.

LTE technology increases the capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements.

These plates also feature bi- stable monochromatic digital ink screens like the ones seen in e-reader devices (for example kindle) which uses no power unless there is a change in the background.

It also consists of GPS system which helps in tracking the movement of the vehicle and a wireless motherboard system which is connected to the cloud. The battery used in it is also replaceable.

How Will It Change Transportation Industry?

Digital License Plate can change the whole transportation industry in a revolutionary way.

The GPS tracking system embedded in it can quickly recognize whether the goods transported in the vehicle are reaching its correct destination or not thus can help the law and enforcement agencies in checking the illegal activities.

It can also reduce paperwork to a great extent on the check post and thus can help in saving the time as well as money.

Many researchers show that time lost by the trucks on the check posts costs dearly to the transportation industry as well as to that country.


There is no doubt that Digital License Plate is the transformational technology that eases the work of almost all the stakeholders like automobile owners, business people, government officials, etc.

It reduces the time and cost tremendously to a large extent. But on the other hand, it could be the fertile ground for hackers and could raise privacy concerns. In short, it is a cool thing, but still, we have to do our due diligence.