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Nissan defuses smartphone use with Signal Shield

Signal Shield concept allows drivers to disable smartphone to avoid distraction

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Nissan logo4 May 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

NISSAN Great Britain has used a piece of technology almost 200 years old to solve a contemporary driving problem – the high levels of distraction provided by modern smartphones.

To combat the problem Nissan has created a prototype centre console storage unit that has been lined with a Faraday cage – a concept invented by scientist Michael Faraday in the 1830s that can block any cellular, Bluetooth or WiFi signals from entering or leaving the compartment.

The prototype phone-proof compartment – which has been fitted to an example of the Juke crossover, is designed to give drivers the choice of blocking out the text messages, social media notifications and app alerts that come up on smartphones every day.

Britain’s Royal Automobile Club (RAC) has said that the number of people who have admitted to handling their phone while driving has increased from eight per cent in 2014 to 31 per cent in 2016, while Nissan’s own data says that 18 per cent have admitted to texting behind the wheel.

One problem that can arise from the data-blocking storage unit is that it can nullify the myriad smartphone connectivity services offered in many of today’s in-car infotainment systems, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Nissan has created a partial solution to this problem by including a USB and auxiliary port that allows occupants to listen to music or other media stored on the phone, however playing any media that involves streaming or accessing cellular data is still impossible.

All connectivity is restored when the lid of the storage compartment is opened.

The Faraday cage works by using a conductive metal such as wire mesh to line the compartment with, which blocks electromagnetic fields.

Nissan Motor GB managing director Alex Smith said that the prototype would help curb the increasing problem of driver distraction.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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