Seeking new and more effective ways to help reduce accidents related to distracted driving, Nissan Great Britain has developed a drop-in storage compartment for cars that can effectively block all cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals. Currently in prototype form and being tested in a Juke, the Nissan Signal Shield uses technology that’s nearly two centuries old to accomplish this feat. 

Built into the armrest of the subcompact Juke crossover but applicable to nearly any vehicle, the Nissan Signal Shield exploits the electronic properties of a Faraday cage. Named after English scientist Michael Faraday who developed it in the 1830’s, it consists of an enclosure made from conductive materials that stops electromagnetic waves by absorbing and distributing them across its own structure. 

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Nissan’s take on the Faraday cage is as slightly more elegant 21st century execution that lines an acrylic molded inner bin with Electromagnetic Field (EMF) fabric and brass shielding mesh. Pop a smartphone or other connected device into the box, close the lid and its quiet time until the driver opts to reconnect the device by opening it back up again. Nissan points out its Signal Shield still allows full functionality of any device via a wired USB or AUX connection and that all its SUV/crossover family also offer hands-free Bluetooth connectivity as well as Nissan Connect/Apple CarPlay.

Distracted driving danger

Motivation for developing the Signal Shield was drawn from a number of studies on the dangers of distracted driving, most notably individuals texting while on the go. A 2014 study of 1,000 U.S. drivers found that while 98 percent thought that was a dangerous activity, 74 percent sill admitted to having done so. Statistics show the distraction created by using a cell phone while driving quadruples the chances of getting into an accident, particularly among younger, less-experienced operators. 

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“The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving,” noted Alex Smith, Managing Director, Nissan Motor GB Ltd. “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.”  

A quick call to Nissan in the U.S. confirmed that the Signal Shield is being “investigated for this marketplace.” However, given it’s still-prototype status, a final decision regarding any future appearance here remains unclear.

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