A License Plate: The ‘new’ username?

Have you ever seen a car being towed and wished you could have warned the owner? Or seen a car with its lights on and wanted to tell the owner before the battery died? Well, you may soon be able to do the good deed by contacting a person just by taking down their license plate number.

A new concept called “Bump” (not to be confused with the item sharing application available on smartphonesplans to form an internal network that would connect people both online and offline via mobile phones and social networking profiles, through the use of a unique identifier like a car license plate.

Basically, if you wanted to contact the owner of a car for whatever reason; perhaps their registration has expired, someone had left their bag on the car’s roof, or you found a dog locked in a car, you simply take down their license plate number, look it up on Bump, and then contact them via phone or email.

Now you might be wondering, “what happens if I just saw someone I thought was cute?” or “we had a moment!” Well, if they drive away and you’re quick enough to get their license plate number, there is a chance you could get their details and suggest meeting up sometime in the future.

If you are anything like me, you might be thinking: isn’t that a little bit creepy? Although the concept seems to be created around the “good samaritan” ideal, helping someone in need, it is strongly dependent on people’s goodwill and if they can even can be bothered helping out the person down the street.

Realistically, the concept crosses many of the blurry lines of privacy – if you can link it to your mobile phone, your Twitter account or even your Facebook, it does seem to encourage random stalking. Whilst you hope people would use the system for good reasons, think about this: an old lady is walking home carrying bags of groceries, and a young man approaches her asking if he can help. Does he really want to help her? Or does he want to steal her stuff?

Bump’s core concept also relies on the person driving the vehicle actually being the owner and that they have already claimed their license plate on the site. Now, I drive cars that don’t belong to me and even if I did own them – would I really want to claim my license plate for someone to contact me just because they saw me on the street? Not really.

In all honesty, this concept sounds a bit like Foursquare on crack – when you check-in to places on Foursquare, they are usually public domains and the chance of someone checking into the same place and realising who you are is pretty low. But this concept allows you to track someone via their number plate – you could easily note it down and continuously contact them (or stalk them?).

This is the video that was used to introduce the new concept:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Csq37RB1CFk&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

There are a few examples mentioned in that video that make Bump sound quite cool, such as the one about a company using your number plate to reward you for using a fast food drive-thru, or being a regular at a gas station. So it does suggest potentially rewarding loyal customers, however its ultimate success is still reliant on the facts I mentioned earlier.

[Image Credit: Mashable]

If you are interested in reading more you can check out the site here: BUMP. It is currently in private beta mode and is invite only – oh, and it’s currently only available in the US.

My verdict: not really my cup of tea. But what do you think? Cool or creepy?

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...

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