Getting smart on smart licence plates: ePaper hitting the road
We’ve seen a lot of technological advancements in the automotive industry over the last few years, from self-driving cars that are operational under extreme weather conditions to augmented reality for vehicle maintenance. While this level of modernisation is transforming the world’s most important economic sector, it hasn’t quite evolved to include the archaic license plates that are fixed on our cars for registration purposes.
Registration has been around for more than a hundred years and provides the means for identification, safety and security, across the world. But since its inception, it hasn’t changed in its look, feel or capabilities to keep up with the fast pace of this digitally evolving world. At Plastic Logic, we think it’s about time that license plates caught up with the rest of the automotive industry and was graced with some form of innovation.
ePaper takes the road less travelled
Flexible plastic ePaper displays have brought innumerable benefits to our lives, with its robust, customisable and low-power functionalities perfect for both personal and business use. It has proven use-cases and applications across a range of sectors, but we now see an opportunity for ePaper to penetrate the automotive industry as a way of transforming these old and archaic license plates into a dynamic, smart and innovative alternative.
ePaper is robust and durable, offering impressive resistance to shattering and scratches, unlike aluminium, which is highly susceptible to damage. In many countries, it is illegal to drive around with a number plate that has been tampered with, broken, cracked or faded, and drivers could be faced with a hefty fine if stopped by the police. However, ePaper can provide a resistant solution to this, ensuring that these license plates withstand serious damage from any bumps or scruffs they may endure on the road.
The integration of ePaper technology could also extend beyond the vanity and craze of personalised number plates (e.g. L0G1C) and introduce custom texts and graphics to take this personalisation to the next level. Drivers could pick from array of logos and designs to promote their own business or to better match their personality, all of which can be refreshed with the touch of an app.
Not only that but ePaper is unique with its extremely low-power functionality and can also function independently from the power grid. The technology can be powered by a rechargeable battery, or in some cases, local solar, which allows drivers to easily switch the content on these displays and remain ‘on’ over a long period of time, without consuming too much power – a sustainable solution for a smart city environment.
An early pioneer of this ‘connected vehicle platform’ technology is Rplate, a company that creates cool-looking, digital displays for businesses, government agencies and everyday consumers. Despite its efforts to integrate ePaper technology to transform and modernise traditional license plates, it’s not all smooth sailing just yet, as the technology is only limited to California.
With around 947 million passenger cars on the road worldwide in 2015, and considering the take-off of Uber and Lyft in the last couple of years, we see a huge opportunity to roll out ePaper licence plates on an international scale to transform the archaic license plate into a modern, sleek and innovative piece of technology.