Nissan phone shield concept offers drivers digital detox

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan - Credit: Nissan

With drivers increasing tempted to use hand-held smartphones, Nissan has turned to an 1830s invention to combat this modern problem with its Signal Shield concept.

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan - Credit: Nissan

Victorian invention, 21st century application – Nissan has adopted a technology that's almost 200 years old to create a concept solution for reducing smartphone distraction at the wheel.

The simple Nissan Signal Shield is a prototype compartment within the armrest of a Nissan Juke that is lined with a Faraday cage – an invention dating back to the 1830s. Once a mobile device is placed in the compartment and the lid closed, Nissan Signal Shield creates a 'silent zone', blocking all of the phone's incoming and outgoing cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections.

The concept is designed to give drivers a choice about whether to eliminate the distractions caused by millions of text messages, social media notifications and app alerts 'pushed' to smartphones each day.

A growing problem, the number of drivers admitting to handling their phone in the car has increased from 8% in 2014 to 31% in 2016, according to the RAC.

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan - Credit: Nissan


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Users are becoming habitually more tempted to check text messages and notifications as they appear on their phone's screen, even if they are driving. Nissan's own research found 18% admitted to having texted behind the wheel.

All Nissan crossovers are available with Bluetooth connectivity to allow drivers to make and receive hands-free phone calls when it is safe to do so. NissanConnect, or Apple CarPlay on the all-new Nissan Micra, enable further integration with a phone's apps.

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The Nissan Signal Shield concept gives drivers the choice between being able to contact and be contacted on the road, or creating a 'phone-free' space and time. It means a digital detox and a drive that's free of incoming distractions.

If drivers want to listen to music or podcasts stored on their smartphone, they can still connect to the car's entertainment system via the USB or auxiliary ports. The device will maintain wired connectivity even when in the Nissan Signal Shield compartment.

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan - Credit: Nissan

To restore the phone's wireless connections, drivers just need to open the armrest to reveal the compartment and the phone can reconnect with the mobile network and the car's Bluetooth.

The innovation works on the principle of the Faraday cage, an enclosure made of a conductive material, such as wire mesh, which blocks electromagnetic fields. It is named after the pioneering English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented it in the 1830s. When an electronic device, like a smartphone, is placed inside, any incoming electromagnetic signals – such as cellular or Bluetooth data – are distributed across the cage's external conducting material and so prevented from reaching the device.

Alex Smith, managing director of Nissan Motor GB, said: 'Nissan produces some of the safest cars on the road today but we are always looking at new ways to improve the wellbeing of our customers. Mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing concern across the automotive industry, and indeed society, particularly with the high number of 'pushed' communications, such as texts, social media notifications and app alerts that tempt drivers to reach for their devices.

'The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving. This is about delivering more control at the wheel, not less. Some drivers are immune to the activity of their smartphone, but for those who struggle to ignore the beeps and pings, this concept provides a simple solution in this very 'connected' world we live in.'

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan - Credit: Nissan

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: 'Our research shows that handheld phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions. As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a handheld phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.

'The Nissan Signal Shield is a good example of a technology that can help drivers be phone smart. For those who can't avoid the temptation, this simple, but pretty clever, tech gives them a valuable mobile-free zone. We are asking all drivers to make a personal commitment not to use a handheld phone at the wheel by visiting www.bephonesmart.uk and sharing their promise with their friends and family.'

PENALTY AND POINTS

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan

The smartphone simply slots into the signal-blocking compartment. Picture: Nissan - Credit: Nissan

The UK introduced stricter penalties in March for drivers caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel – six penalty points and a £200 fine.

It's illegal to use your phone while driving or riding a motorcycle unless you have hands-free access but many bodies advise not using a phone at all while driving to maintain concentration.

The law on a driver using a hand-held mobile phone still applies to you if:

Stopped at traffic lights.

Queuing in traffic.

Supervising a learner driver.

The penalty for being caught using a hand-held device while driving has been progressively increased since the law was introduced in 2003. It was originally £30 – now it is £200 and six penalty points on your licence which means, if you passed your driving test in the last two years, you'll lose your licence.

You can also be taken to court where you can be banned from driving or riding and fined up to £1,000 – £2,500 if driving a lorry or bus.

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