If your car’s cabin had a special box that would block incoming mobile phone signals, to make sure you were never tempted to use your phone illegally, would you use it?
Nissan has borrowed a 180-year-old idea to provide just that. After engineering a miniaturised Faraday cage into the central storage bin between the front seats, Nissan has dubbed it the much more marketing-savvy Signal Shield concept.
The concept is switchable, so you can either leave the bin lid open and still use Bluetooth to make and receive calls while driving, or you can shut the lid and choose to block everything to let you concentrate on what really matters. Like not driving into anything. An actual switch could be an option as well in future versions, letting drivers keep their armrest closed with the Signal Shield deactivated.
As more and more young drivers get behind the wheel, the proportion of people willing to use their phone illegally is rising fast. From eight per cent of people in 2014, that figure now stands at 31 per cent, says RAC research quoted by Nissan. Nissan itself found that 18 per cent of people admit to texting behind the wheel, and there’s a good chance that not everyone who’s guilty actually declared it.
The Faraday cage idea, the development of which harks back to the 1830s, blocks all wireless electronic signals from getting to the phone handset, so to get around the music playback problem any car that had one installed would also have connectivity ports in the same location.
In a press release, Nissan said:
“The number of drivers admitting to handling their phone in the car has increased from 8 per cent in 2014 to 31 per cent in 2016, according to the RAC.
“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 almost one in five drivers (18 per cent) 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.
“The Nissan Signal Shield concept provides optional connectivity, giving drivers the choice between being able to contact and be contacted from the road, or creating a ‘phone-free’ space and time. It means a digital detox and a drive that’s free of incoming distractions.”