Texting while driving is bad. In fact, doing anything on your phone while driving — except perhaps answering the phone in handsfree mode — is dumb and dangerous.
But sometimes, after you hear that familiar buzz, the temptation is just too strong. And there you suddenly are, replying to a totally irrelevant text message while putting your life, and lives of others, in jeopardy.
Nissan has an interesting solution to this problem. Called the Nissan Signal Shield, it’s basically a Faraday cage for your phone — a compartment which blocks electromagnetic signals (that includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular signals), both outgoing and ingoing. Put your phone inside, and it will stay silent until you pull it out again.
Michael Faraday invented the Faraday cage in 1836. In its simplest form, it’s a mesh of conductive material that blocks electromagnetic fields.
The Signal Shield, which is based on that principle, is currently only a prototype, installed in a Nissan Juke. But it could easily become a reality. According to Nissan, 18 percent of drivers admitted to having texted behind the wheel, and anything that helps reduce this percentage to zero is worth consideration.
“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,” Alex Smith, Managing Director of Nissan Motor GB, said in a statement.
Some issues come to mind. How do you listen to music from your phone while driving? Nissan says the concept allows for the phone to remain connected, via a wire, with the car’s infotainment system, but it wouldn’t receive calls or messages.
Another possible problem might arise in the case of a crash; instead of transmitting your location — and, potentially, a call for help — the phone would sit half-dead in that compartment. But that’s a rare occasion that could be solved with standalone in-car functionality.
Nissan isn’t the first company to try to tackle the problem of smartphones distracting our driving. Just last week, Samsung launched an app (currently undergoing beta testing in the Netherlands) that automatically responds to texts while you drive.