Michigan is now one of three states that have approved digital license plates for automobiles. What are they? What are the benefits and, more importantly, the possible pitfalls? Listen as Vince wonders with Joe through his many concerns about whether adding this technology for vehicle license plates is something consumers need or want.
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Joe Luther 0:00
Oh, Vince, don't tell me you're gonna start again.
Vince Kern 0:03
I gotta wander baby.
Joe Luther 0:05
What's it going to be this time?
Vince Kern 0:06
I don't know. But I'm wondering.
Joe Luther 0:09
Like, brace yourselves, everyone.
Vince Kern 0:15
Joe Luther 0:16
Hey, Vince, what's up with you today? Yeah, I thought so. I thought that there was a little you can see that. Well, you have a little bit of a scrunchie forehead
Vince Kern 0:27
was crunchy forehead, at least it's not in my hair. Why? What's eating? Oh, you know, these these ideas that are solutions in search of a problem? You know? I look I try to be like, you know, my chakras open and one with the universe and listening to the trees
Joe Luther 0:47
do a very good job of that. Well,
Vince Kern 0:48
well, thank you. But you know, like everybody else, every other human being every now and then something comes in and sticks in my craw on something sticking in my craw today.
Joe Luther 0:57
Well, then I think this is the venue for you to get it out of your Craw, whatever it is,
Vince Kern 1:02
friends and wonder. Well, I'm gonna I'm gonna deep crawl myself. Here's what I'm thinking. Here's what I read. I read this article now. And I don't know how many people in Michigan know this. But we are now one of three states that have approved the use of digital license plates.
Joe Luther 1:19
Digital license plate digital license, so you're talking about actual electronic license plates, like a Kindle AC in place of the metal ones. Yeah, that rust out. That's exactly or touched, I think in very often in prison or something like yeah, that's I hear they they do in prison.
Vince Kern 1:38
See, there you go. Because be taking jobs away from the prisoners.
Joe Luther 1:42
Well, we're gonna let them all out. Anyhow, that's a good point.
Vince Kern 1:45
What the end, you know, so here's the thing, I read this article. And so Michigan now is one of the three states the other two are California. And Arizona. Okay. And there's good company out west? Yeah, yeah, this company out west is called Reviver have developed a digital license plate. And basically, what it is, is it's a Kindle, a high tech Kindle. It's probably got more memory in it than a Kindle has. But it has the you have to have it installed on your car. So.
Joe Luther 2:19
So like connected to the rest of the computer in your car.
Vince Kern 2:23
There's two versions. There's a battery operated version. And there's a wired version.
Joe Luther 2:28
Oh, kind of like the ring doorbell? Exactly. I see.
Vince Kern 2:33
So what happens is you attach this thing to your car and is being sold. Let me let me read this to you. This is the way it's being marketed by the company. Everything about the driving experience has evolved in the past 100 years, except license plates. Technology empowers us to have more control, spend less time on mundane tasks, and easily connect with others. Managing our vehicles should be no exception.
Joe Luther 3:02
Okay, so that there's a lot in that statement. Yeah, connecting with others is that what this license plate is going to bring to us connecting with one another,
Vince Kern 3:12
it can it can connect to your iPhone. So if somebody were to cut you off, know, if someone were to steal your car, for instance, you could get an alert that it's been moved, and the license plate would say, stolen? Oh, that's a nice thing. So it's a GPS function. It has GPS functionality. And if you connect it to your car, it has telemetrics capabilities. And so that knows GPS speed, the whole nine yards, you know, like those insurance things you plug into your car.
Joe Luther 3:48
Oh, yeah. And the onboard diagnostic section. Yeah. And you
Vince Kern 3:52
get and so you know, it's great. What the insurance if you choose the operative word here being choose to put one in your car, you get a lower insurance rate if you drive safely, safely, or whatever, whatever they're meant to however you define safely, right? So with this thing, it's a little bit too late. So
Joe Luther 4:11
then what's the oh, what's the difference is that these license plates might not be optional, is that we're,
Vince Kern 4:21
yeah, that's a slippery slope. Right. So right now this company is working with fleet companies, and auto dealerships. And the DMV says, Hey, we're not making any money off of this thing. So the goal is, the way it's being marketed is you can automatically renew your license plate without having to go to the DMV and the DMV saves money because they don't have to mail out license plates.
Joe Luther 4:44
So is the DMV going to pay for these digital license plates?
Vince Kern 4:47
No, you wait a minute, you're gonna pay about 30 bucks a month for the plate and the data plan for the
Joe Luther 4:55
honor of having this GPS tracking system on back end of your car.
Vince Kern 5:01
Yeah. Why wouldn't you want something like that on there? I mean, if you don't want the data, I'm sure somebody out there wants to
Joe Luther 5:06
say at the beginning a solution in search of a
Vince Kern 5:09
problem. That's what I'm wondering about. So here's the thing. They say it's a great visual personalization that it can switch between light or dark mode.
Joe Luther 5:21
Oh, well, so it'd be like a little portable. billboard or something.
Vince Kern 5:27
Yeah. All right.
Joe Luther 5:28
So wait a minute, what if somebody is looking at your back end looking for a license plate number, but all it sees is Have a nice day smiley face instead?
Vince Kern 5:37
Well, no, it still needs to display the plate number. But below it, you can put a personalized message that are approved right now. So you can have like, you know, the college you went to support your local police, please don't pull me over messages like that? Probably
Joe Luther 5:53
not a political statements. Not yet, depending on
Vince Kern 5:58
but wouldn't that statement is, but if you were going to have a digital plate, wouldn't you want the freedom to possibly put something like that
Joe Luther 6:06
just trying to think if I would ever want a digital plate and I can see why your foreheads a little scrunchie? Tell me more events? What are you thinking about this? Well, so first of all, you're seeing we would pay for it? Do they have any idea how much one of these things you said $3 a month? Do we have to pay for the hardware to? Or is it
Vince Kern 6:25
a battery operated plate is 1995 a month for 48 months? Or $215.40? For four years?
Joe Luther 6:35
Oh, so it's like having a cell phone attached to the back end of your vehicle?
Vince Kern 6:39
Yeah, you need a data plan, certainly to, you know, have this data that is being collected? And
Joe Luther 6:45
again, can you remind me? What are the benefits to the driver to the consumer?
Vince Kern 6:51
Well, let me just throw the other price out at you the wired plate is 25 bucks a month for 48 months or $275.40 for four years. And then after your one year of data plan runs out, you still have to subscribe to a data plan. So
Joe Luther 7:07
over $1,000 in the first four years, oh, and then after that the plate becomes yours and you just have a data plan after that. I'm not I guess I'm it's kind of like a cell phone is what you're saying? Yeah, once you own it, it's yours. And you just need a data plan to go with
Vince Kern 7:24
it. And you asked about the benefits. And I always want to be be responsive to questions asked. So here are some of the benefits.
Joe Luther 7:33
Yes, you do. Vince, we love that. Thank
Vince Kern 7:34
you. So they're selling it to fleets right now. And this is the interesting thing. So this is the this is to me the insipid intrusion into the consumer marketplace that always starts with Oh, it's great for for business. So it should be great for you. When you say fleets, you're talking about Amazon TWRA. People who are out delivering any kind of fleet, any kind of truck fleet about rental cars, rental cars, my bet your rental cars is probably going to be one of the fleets that they're that they're approaching. Again, remember, you can only do this in California, Arizona and Michigan right now. So
Joe Luther 8:14
it's been approved by the way you said it was approved. Yes. Who I don't remember approving this. I
Vince Kern 8:19
didn't vote for it. But you
Joe Luther 8:21
who approved it
Vince Kern 8:23
properly. The DMV? Yeah. That's great. We don't have to mail this crap. Right. So here they go with for fleets, you have the ability to estimate arrival times. Because of course, you couldn't do that by calling the driver on the phone, or having another GPS installed thing that makes sense to me. Okay, you need to kind of know what's going on with your
Joe Luther 8:45
fleet. Right? Yeah, but I don't see why you need a license plate to do that. Because I think a lot of these fleets like UPS and Amazon they, they can put GPS clarity got
Vince Kern 8:55
those big round things on top right, but a GPS track. So let's just say that. That's one forget. That's it. That's one already being done, but but again, use it to market it. The ability to monitor any vehicles mileage, that's easy to do right now. The ability to set GPS boundaries through geofencing
Joe Luther 9:13
Vince Kern 9:14
we're getting some geofencing
Joe Luther 9:16
that sounds controlling. Yeah. geofencing Wait a minute. You use that phrase twice. And I let that go by what do you mean by geofencing?
Vince Kern 9:23
geofencing. It's a
Joe Luther 9:25
I think I could put it together with the AI with the idea that words geo is geographical fencing is in closing something
Vince Kern 9:31
exactly. It's a geofence. So that let's let's give an example of how it's being used right now. So if you go walking down the street in Europe, which I've never been to Europe, but I hear these things are true. And I remember my r&d days, your phone could be detected by something that has geo fenced in area. So if you walk outside of a store that's selling, let's just say coffee and pastries, okay, all of a sudden you can get this pop up on your phone that says hey,
Joe Luther 10:00
Ah, so that's a geofencing ad or something. Yeah, that's
Vince Kern 10:04
a geofencing ad, it's the ability to interact with somebody within a certain set of boundaries. And you come in this boundary, you're gonna get like it Major League Baseball has it right now, if you walk into a stadium, they're geo fenced in, you can get all kinds of okay,
Joe Luther 10:18
cool. So I guess plates are gonna be back to the thing. So the geofencing
Vince Kern 10:22
the way they market this, and they said, This is a future capability for consumers. You can set up geofencing for your children, for instance, when your teenage kid is taking your car out, you can say, here's the area that you can drive in. And you have this app on your phone. Now I know there's probably some of that going on, right? Yeah,
Joe Luther 10:44
I was gonna say I think a find my friend kind of a thing keeps track of where kids are going. And they'll send alert if it goes outside of that zone.
Vince Kern 10:53
Yeah, but this thing is wired to your car through the telemetric. So you could just say, Be sorry, buddy. I'm shutting the car off. You're stuck.
Joe Luther 11:02
I think some of that was was made illegal. I went there, like unscrupulous lenders that were disabling vehicles, because the payments didn't get paid or something like that. Interesting, though. So you're seeing, but even more nefarious than that. This is government now, keeping track of this data. It's one thing if you have an agreement within your family to keep track of where one person's they're talking about this kind of technology being applicable to anybody with this plate. Sure. And as of right now, right? It's just going to people who want them fleets and that kind of thing. But your scrunchie forehead is all about the slippery slope, I assume.
Vince Kern 11:46
Yeah, I my scrunchie forehead is I don't want anything coming down those scrunches too fast, because it freaks me out. So here's what I'm freaked out about, I'm freaked out about this. And I'll probably never live to see it. But they mandate these digital license plates, right, because it's such a great thing for the DMV, and everybody else, and blah, blah, blah, after the soft launch, it becomes a mandate comes a mandated thing. So you go to the to the auto dealer to buy a new car and you your only choice, you don't have a choice, you get a digital license plate. Now there's a terms of service agreement that says, You're buying this car, blah, blah, blah, blah, here's all the stuff that goes to it. And by the way, weighed down on page 978. Somewhere, it says that the data from your digital license plate can be sold to third party vendors.
Joe Luther 12:35
Well, at a minimum, and I'm sure that the data can be used for a lot of other things as well. Well, sure. Exactly. Come to your neighborhood soon.
Vince Kern 12:43
Yeah. Right. So they talk about the ability. So you know, I've mentioned that earlier, I think if your car is stolen, you know, you can say stolen on the back? Do you really think these aren't going to find a way to get around
Joe Luther 12:58
that? I don't think you need to pay $30 or $20 a month for
Vince Kern 13:01
that? No, I don't either. And here's another thing, they say that the technology is secure. And that the same technology that banks use to keep your data secure is this is used in these digital license plates. Now, that doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence.
Joe Luther 13:18
I keep getting these notifications from personal identification software that the latest bank has recently been hacked or something like that. So yeah, I agree. There's all more electronic data about us wandering around in the world
Vince Kern 13:37
than we need. Now. Do we need to come in from our freakin car as well? I mean, okay, so here's, here's another thought, here's a more realistic scenario. You bet you've driven driven in a car with me before? Yes, you don't often let me drive.
Joe Luther 13:53
There's a reason for that. There's a good reason Vince very often likes to stop at Green Light, especially if he's making a point
Vince Kern 14:00
stop at Green lights. Okay, so you're in the car with the VIN man, and he stops at a green light. He's got a digital plate on the back of his car. And he comes up, you know, there's a move so the person behind them bumps into his bumper. Oh, not enough to damage the car. But enough to break the digital license plate.
Joe Luther 14:19
Ah, yeah. Now what happens it's gonna be a crunchy experience instead of a bending experience.
Vince Kern 14:24
Exactly. Bending right so if I were to bump if I were to back into a tree or something on my way out of the yard I can always just breach shape my metal plate. Just pull that corner.
Joe Luther 14:38
Metal craft and plate. Yeah, yeah,
Vince Kern 14:40
it's good to go. Yeah,
Joe Luther 14:41
I don't have to worry about oh my god. It's something that's more complicated.
Vince Kern 14:45
How do I get back on the road? You know what happens? So
Joe Luther 14:51
I don't blame you for being um, do you feel better getting this off your chest?
Vince Kern 14:54
I feel a lot better getting it off my check. Chest. My check. Right Check to get it off. Right, right, exactly. You know, and here's the other thing. They're just black and white. They're not color. Look at all the colorful plates on the back of cars. How boring will it be? To have just black and
Joe Luther 15:10
white? Yeah, more digital? Yeah, you're gonna be able to see a picture the Colorado mountain scape anymore.
Vince Kern 15:16
It's a classic example of throwing more technology at something that will solve the problem. If the problem exists, right. I don't think the problem exists.
Joe Luther 15:28
Well, there's a problem. All right. And that's that somebody wants your data. When the problem is,
Vince Kern 15:34
well, you know, me, I like to don't like to complain without having a solution. Okay, so
Joe Luther 15:39
what's your solution?
Vince Kern 15:41
Here's my solution. Joe, you can do the same thing. You know, those little tags that you put when you don't you know, when you lose something or whatever, just little, little, like, little tags you put on a phone? So Oh, yeah. I mean, phones you can find? Maybe it's your purse or sure your purse. But so you could develop a digital, simple yes or no. Color Green for Yes. color red for no. And put it on the back of a metal license plate, or somewhere in a designated area that's hooked through the DMV through your phone. And when you renew your plate through the phone, the DMV just says, Yes, this is a good plate. We don't need data, we just need to display once you've
Joe Luther 16:28
paid your biller.
Vince Kern 16:29
Exactly. So there you have it. So
Joe Luther 16:32
that's probably more than just the the bill paying experience that they're trying to improve. Here
Vince Kern 16:38
is what you're saying. That's my assumption.
Joe Luther 16:41
Well, I don't blame you. I mean, I've certainly what's interesting is that I've never even heard about this. And it's course not under the radar right now. And before long, it's going to be something that is a part of everyday life,
Vince Kern 16:54
I'm going to be out there leading the charge against digital license plates, it's time for me to take a stand against
Joe Luther 17:00
just to caveman events. You're just
Vince Kern 17:03
Oh, and by the way, the cost that I mentioned, does not even include the registration fee for the PLO.
Joe Luther 17:10
So yeah, and you're talking about $1,000 over four years, just for the honor of having this digital plate, plus all the other fees. Yep. Wow. Yeah. Thank you. Now, I don't blame you. I don't blame you. I don't blame you event. Thank you, Jay. I'm glad we were able to help you get thank you
Vince Kern 17:29
so much for letting me get this off of your chest, especially in the studios here because I don't people I was walking around like a headcase outside the street up and down Woodward for a while when I was thinking about this, and now I feel like I can go on with my day. Well, good.
Joe Luther 17:44
I wonder what other people think about something like this. You know, it's interesting. There's a whole generation of people who don't have any expectation of data privacy. So maybe soon, the younger people will embrace this. But my guess is there's a lot of us suspicious, cadre type people that don't feel the same way about it. And probably somewhere in between, there's people that go back and forth. But my overall concern is, Do people really know what's going on with the suppose a data that they're providing
Vince Kern 18:18
as part of this experience? Yep. It just keeps getting more and more, and we'll find out Vince? Well, I've told a bunch of people off my lawn. So thanks for the time,
Joe Luther 18:27
you've done a good job of getting this information out there events.
Vince Kern 18:31
Let's wander and wander some more beautiful,
Joe Luther 18:33
Ba ba ba ba. Well, so ends another episode of Friends in wonder, we really want to thank you for listening. If you'd like to listen to more episodes, provide feedback, questions, or even suggest topics you'd like us to wonder about in future episodes. Be sure to check us out at friends in wonder.com. We'd also be grateful if you'd subscribe, like or share this podcast. Until next time, I'm Joe. And I'm Vince and we're friends in wonder.