Despite many initiatives and technologies to combat distracted driving, the practice is still as widespread as ever. Nissan is the latest company to take a crack at the problem by turning the armrest storage box into a signal blocker.
Nissan is testing their Signal Shield in their Nissan Juke CUV in the UK. It’s the equivalent of stepping into an elevator with your phone — the armrest storage box is partially made of conductive material that effectively blocks incoming radio waves from reaching the phone. That means no network connectivity, and no Bluetooth. If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is a Faraday cage — the concept was introduced by British scientist Michael Faraday, who research electromagnetism heavily.
There are some downsides to this approach. It’s a brute force method, completely cutting off communication — that’s not necessarily bad for something as dangerous as texting or calling while driving, but it would also prevent drivers from using turn-by-turn navigation. However, music stored on the device itself could still be played — Nissan has left a hole going out of the box for an auxiliary cable.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue is the same one that’s plagued other solutions like software-based driver modes that prevent phone use — it’s voluntary. Drivers by and large haven’t made use of these voluntary methods, which can be confirmed by checking out this study or just driving on the nearest highway and looking around. The phone jail is nice, but if Judge Driver doesn’t hand down the sentence, texting while driving is still going to be a menace on the streets.