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General Motors Introduces Prototype Android App to Read License Plates

June 24, 2014 - Written By Timothy Ledin

General Motors may be best known for the cars and trucks they produce, but would you think them developing an Android App? The app was recently debuted at the Telematics Detroit 2014 conference, DiDi Plate. It seems the geniuses at GM’s China R&D division have been finding new ways to keep GM drivers connected and this new app is the fruit of their labor.

DiDi Plate would allow drivers to take a snapshot of another driver’s license plate which then will provide the driver with information such as a cell number for the other driver. Of course, then the driver could text the other driver. Should we even begin to think where this could go or how it would be abused? How about just knowing that any driver following you that has this app could get your personal information. Let’s not even get into the whole “texting-while-driving” debate. 

Granted, this app could be useful in some ways. For instance, you’re driving down the freeway and you notice a driver all over the road. With this app, one click of phone’s camera and now you know the driver’s name and phone number, next you’re texting his information along with an incriminating video to the Highway Patrol. Another good example, you pull up to your space at work and some other vehicle is parked in your space. No problem with DiDi Plate, now you can call the owner of the vehicle and advise they get out of your space. These are probably the only two reasons to use this app, but we all know these are probably the last two reasons the app will be used for. To no surprise, the ACLU has already commented on the constitutionality of this app. It’s probably too early to worry about the guy next to you in morning traffic texting you about a date, as the app is merely just a prototype.

General Motors has been a leader in “in car” communication with their OnStar system. This system can do the simplest and unlock your car remotely when you’ve locked your keys inside. It also can save your life by reporting air bag deployments to the OnStar dispatcher, who can now pinpoint your location and notify first responders. Hopefully, GM will use their experience with OnStar as a guide before this prototype app sees mainstream downloads.