Nissan is using Victorian technology to make its cars safer

Nissan has announced it’s developed a concept which uses a nineteenth century technology to solve the thoroughly modern problem of drivers using smartphones behind the wheel. 

The idea involves fitting a compartment into the armrest of a Nissan Juke vehicle which essentially acts as a Faraday cage (though Nissan has called it the 'Nissan Signal Shield' which sounds much more Marvel and much less science lesson). 

Once a device is placed in the armrest, it would block all phone, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals and the idea is that as there would be no distracting alerts and push notifications coming to the phone drivers will be less tempted to pick the phone up while behind the wheel. 

Out of sight out of mind

This is, of course, a choice; drivers will be able to choose whether or not they put their phone into the compartment and they’ll also have the choice to take it out again. Its effectiveness really depends on how self-aware a driver is and whether they think such a step would be necessary for them. 

Mobile phone use while driving is, however, a growing problem and, 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. 

This is despite the ever-increasing range of hands-free Bluetooth options such as Apple CarPlay and NissanConnect which allow drivers to take calls without touching their phone at all. Giving drivers who are aware that they’re easily distracted even with these additional technologies a way to remove potential distractions entirely is a positive move.

According to Alex Smith, Managing Director, Nissan Motor GB, the Signal Shield is about “delivering more control at the wheel, not less.”

Another option would be simply to turn your phone off when you get into the car, removing any potential distractions without paying to turn your car into something Jules Verne might have dreamed up. 

However, when your phone is turned off you don’t have access to your music or podcasts, something which will still be possible using the Signal Shield as it would still allow you to connect to the car’s entertainment system using a wired connection.

The Nissan Signal Shield is just in the prototype stages at the moment, meaning there’s no guarantee that it’ll ever actually be a feature you can purchase in the future.

You can see the Signal Shield in action below:

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.