Detroit MI Drivers: License Plates Gone Social

September 20th, 2010

Still images from one of the Bump "How It Works" videos. A woman photographs the license plate of a man whom she thought was "cute." She then connects with him by phone using the Bump Network.

Detroit MI is widely recognized for car manufacturing and car culture, but how far would residents to communicate with their fellow drivers?

One of the most integral parts of driving a car is the license plate. It’s the key to the road. At least the key to legally drive on the road, but will those in Detroit MI embrace a new social network service called Bump that requires users to register their license plates?

Imagine being able to let someone know they’ve left their lights on long after they’ve left the parking lot. What about being able to stop the nuisance of car alarms late at night when the owner of the car is not home? Or as a solution to missed opportunities—and what could be the most disturbing aspect of this new service and making it a breeding ground for stalkers—send a stranger a text message or directly call them after seeing their car go by.

All these ideas, no matter how frightening or helpful, are in fact possibilities with

“Bump” is a social network built around license plates is being developed by a company in California. The social network is currently a beta service, meaning it’s still seeking investors and in testing phase, but users can join right now.

If Detroit MI drivers wanted to participate, they’d go to the website and claim their license plate by registering their license plate number, state, username, first name, last name, and password. The user registering his license plate in the “How To” video was named John Mclovin. Anyone who has seen the movie Superbad will understand the humor here. VIN numbers are also incorporated to alert Bump if someone has registered your license plate.

There is one integral requirement for the social network service to work. The person who is to be “bumped” by another person by capturing his or her vehicle’s license plate must be registered with the website. If someone just cut you off in traffic, your attempts to verbally assault them will go unread if they are not a member of the social network. In that case, drivers could always go the old fashioned route and use sign language.

There are six videos on the website showing examples of when people would use Bump, two of which are about flirting. In one scene, two cars pull up side-by-side and boy can’t hit on girl because her music is too loud; she can’t hear him. As she pulls away, he is able to read her license plate, and stalk track her down by using the Bump network in order to get his harassing message across. In another scene a woman is standing on the street corner—not that type of street corner—and a man passes her by. They make eye contact, but the light turns green and he drives away. She whips out her camera phone, takes a picture of the license plate and uses an app to connect to him through Bump by calling him on his phone.

But it’s not just a source for picking up the opposite sex. It will be used to pick up customers, too.

According to a story appearing in Venture Beat, marketers will have loads of opportunity:

“If you go to a McDonald’s regularly, the security camera could capture your license plate and recognize that you’ve come to the fast food joint about 112 times in the past year. It could recommend that the clerk suggest french fries, as is your habit.”

Mitch Thrower who is the chief executive of Bump Network said, “It’s kind of like a national, social-networked 1-800-How’s-My-Driving?”

Sure but would people become better drivers or more distracted drivers when using this network on the road? An accelerometer app for iPhones has been developed that supposedly prevents the driver from using the Bump system when driving faster than 5 mph.

It’s an interesting service but we at MI Auto Times can’t help but wonder what the negative repercussions will be.

What do you think about this new development? Would you register your license plate? Would you want your teenager to register his or her license plate? Do you think it’s a great thing? Tell us about it.

[Source(s):, VentureBeat]

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4 Responses to “Detroit MI Drivers: License Plates Gone Social”

  1. Sarah says:

    I was skeptical about this idea until I saw that text when driving is disabled at speeds of 5+mph. I would’ve loved this last week when I saw a jerk in Meijer’s parking lot hit another car and drive off! Talk about holding each other accountable…

    • MI Auto Times editor says:


      Thanks for the comment. Agreed. This service would definitely be helpful in those situations when we can act as citizen police. Let’s hope it doesn’t get out of control.

  2. Connie says:

    I love this video by Check it out!

  1. Auto detroit mi other services - Other services - Auto services says:

    [...] Detroit MI Drivers: License Plates Gone Social « Michigan Auto Times 20 Sep 2010. Detroit MI drivers have lots to share about their automotive history but. It's an interesting service but we at MI Auto Times can't help but wonder what. Talk about holding each other accountable… VA:F [1.9.3_1094] Detroit MI Drivers: License Plates Gone Social « Michigan Auto Times [...]