Nissan using 180-year-old tech to stop smartphones from distracting drivers

midian182

Posts: 6,095   +50
Staff member

In recent times, companies have been introducing devices and apps designed to stop drivers getting distracted by their smartphones. But vehicle manufacturer Nissan is turning to an old-school solution for a modern problem.

The company’s prototype Nissan Signal Shield is a compartment built into the armrest of its Juke crossover vehicle. To stop incoming and outgoing cellular, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connections, the box uses the same principles as a Faraday cage, which features a conductive material, such as wire mesh, to shield contents from electromagnetic fields. It was invented by Michael Faraday way back in 1836.

Once the compartment lid is closed, distractions such as texts, calls, message notifications, and social media alerts won’t get through. While some may question why a driver doesn’t just turn off their phone before getting into a car, there are some advantages to using the box. Not only is it quicker and easier than powering a phone on and off, the compartment contains wired connections, meaning a handset can be linked to the car’s infotainment system via USB or auxiliary ports so drivers can listen to music stored on their device, even when it’s locked away.

Re-establishing a connection with the mobile network or the car’s Bluetooth system is simply a matter of opening the lid. You don’t have to take the phone out of the box or even touch it.

“Nissan produces some of the safest cars on the road today, but we are always looking at new ways to improve the wellbeing of our customers,” said Alex Smith, managing director of Nissan Motor GB.

“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.”

“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.”

Last year, a UK research team found that having a hands-free conversation is just as distracting for drivers as holding a phone in their hands.

Apps such as SMS Auto Reply, Android Auto, and Samsung’s recent In-Traffic Reply send automated responses when users are driving. But Nissan's solution could be even more effective.

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TomSEA

Posts: 3,277   +1,961
"While some may question why a driver doesn’t just turn off their phone before getting into a car..."

Exactly. It's still on the onus for the person to put their device in the compartment to begin with before driving. And for those people addicted to their phones - which seems to be 95% of the population - they won't do that.
 

bazz2004

Posts: 1,645   +273
Nissan's idea is just window dressing. Apart from the dangerous use of mobiles, I regularly see smokers with a lighted cigarette clenched between their fingers and in the last couple of years some cars have clouds of vapour being released via the drivers window from vaping devices. We have cup holders at hand for drivers too so they can swig hot drinks at the wheel. Legislation coordinated with new technology to keep drivers safe from themselves has to be considered. Maybe we'll have self driving cars before a solution to current problems is thrashed out and that's a long way off.
 

stewi0001

Posts: 2,446   +1,943
TechSpot Elite
Nissan's idea is just window dressing. Apart from the dangerous use of mobiles, I regularly see smokers with a lighted cigarette clenched between their fingers and in the last couple of years some cars have clouds of vapour being released via the drivers window from vaping devices. We have cup holders at hand for drivers too so they can swig hot drinks at the wheel. Legislation coordinated with new technology to keep drivers safe from themselves has to be considered. Maybe we'll have self driving cars before a solution to current problems is thrashed out and that's a long way off.
It does seem like people are forgetting that there are other distractions too besides mobile devices. They have become the most prominent.

"Last year, a UK research team found that having a hands-free conversation is just as distracting for drivers as holding a phone in their hands."

With this logic, you'd better not even talk to the driver if you are a passenger ;)

Ultimately, you can't stop stupid as much as you try to prevent it. What I really wish is that people would have and use common sense again. I don't expect people to be perfect but I see less and less people using common sense anymore, which is why I refer to it now as uncommon sense.
 
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andrewdoyle88

Posts: 139   +125
The only problem with it (that I see) is that the phone, unless put on airplane mode, will use up it's battery life faster trying to find a signal.
I agree with what you're saying but I think the intent is to have charging capabilities in the box. Personally I think it should just be a little dock or pad you can set you phone on. Like you said it should force your phone into airplane mode while simultaneously activating wireless charging and connect to your vehicle's Bluetooth.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

Posts: 1,868   +900
A waste of effort unfortunately... only people who want to avoid distraction would use this. The rest will continue to be stupid. There is no perfect solution to the problem, you can make all these stupid laws, public service announcements, etc. which will have little effect. The only real chance of stopping it is hiring snipers with a semi-auto .50 cal rifle to sit on the top of all the buildings, bridges, and hills overlooking the roads and shooting every person who is using their phone and driving in the head. SPLAT! Problem solved. Sure there will be some collateral damage, but the ends justify the means.
 
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Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,286
"While some may question why a driver doesn’t just turn off their phone before getting into a car..."

Exactly. It's still on the onus for the person to put their device in the compartment to begin with before driving. And for those people addicted to their phones - which seems to be 95% of the population - they won't do that.
Only 95%??? I would've thought that number to be much higher.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,510   +6,007
A simple woven copper wire surrounding the box, properly grounded with do the same thing; a technology that has existed since the transmission of radio waves .....
 
I agree with the majority that this is a "people" problem as most consumers who are addicted to the their mobile device, will continue to use it and not stick it in the console box. I would rather see an OEM come to market with a phone docking station in the dash/console that requires you to connect your phone to your car (in a locking position) before the vehicle can be started or engaged into drive. With most vehicles going to apple car play, etc. your phone would still give you hands free calling, Bluetooth music, emergency assist., etc. However, the phone would not be available for holding (I.e. physical texting). Granted, not everyone has a mobile smart phone, so there could be an over-ride built into the vehicle's fuse box. But if I had a teenage driver in the household, I would definitely want this type of technology on my vehicle. I see too many teens running off the road because of texting and driving.
 

Capaill

Posts: 1,200   +737
I suspect we'll need to wait until phones are better integrated into cars (ie. connected for satnav, streaming music, etc) to the point that the phone cannot work in a car unless it is connected to the car. And then the car can easily disable some phone functionality. The only override available then would be to make emergency calls.
 

lipe123

Posts: 935   +509
Pretty stupid,

1. The phone will try its *** off to get signal and kill the battery.

2. Who is going to put their phone away if they don't want to?
Or just take it out all the time to see if they didn't miss something important.

Educate people that they are going to kill themselves and others with TV ads like the recent one where a maimed girl asks a bunch of teens if they text and drive and then tell them face to face "well someone like you killed my parents and crippled me for life, good job f-ing *****"
 
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MadKnight

Posts: 14   +8
Airplane mode is faster than turning off/on.
Airplane mode then activating bluetooth keeps bluetooth on if you need it.
the solution is already available, no need to invent one and pay few hundred $ for unneeded solution.

how are you going to stop those people form using their phones if they need gps and its available on phone only or the car gps is not user friendly?
teach people to stop the car completely to check these messages, you dont have to ignore your phone, hell you might be expecting an important call or someone might need help, you pull over and answer/check messages, how hard is that?
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,286
Or their unwillingness to put their phone in the faraday cage to begin with. Because **** that old lady crossing the road, I gotta tweet this!
Yup. Most humans tend to be selfish and self centred by nature in my experience. The real, real sad thing is that attitude of theirs tends to rub off on others, myself included at times, something I'm not proud of or brag about.
 

rvnwlfdroid

Posts: 193   +49
I use an app called Car Home Ultra. When it detects a Bluetooth connection to my car it opens the app, hides notification bar, disables notifications being pushed, sends a customizable automatic response to texts, answers phone calls automatically, is capable of automatically starting the last media player/app you were using. You can set up links/shortcuts to different apps so they are very handy. It's my solution for being able to leave my phone in one place with minimal interaction. On the home screen I have Maps, Pandora, Smart Audio book reader, Audible, Pulsar (music player). That's about the extent of what I use while driving.
 
Kind of pointless, since it doesn't do anything that the driver couldn't already do just by turning off the phone. Several phone designers have a better idea of using the phone's location tracking to disable phone calls and texts whenever the phone is moving faster than walking speed
 

Arris

Posts: 4,719   +446
Ultimately, you can't stop stupid as much as you try to prevent it. What I really wish is that people would have and use common sense again. I don't expect people to be perfect but I see less and less people using common sense anymore, which is why I refer to it now as uncommon sense.
I foresee some people buying these cars and wanting to have all the gadgets so ticking all the optional extra boxes. Then driving around with the armrest wide open for the entire time they own the car :D

And Nissan, if you are so worried about distracting drivers, stop making that hideous Juke that has me shielding my eyes from its ugliness when I drive past them.
 
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OcelotRex

Posts: 558   +302
Airplane mode is faster than turning off/on.
Airplane mode then activating bluetooth keeps bluetooth on if you need it.
the solution is already available, no need to invent one and pay few hundred $ for unneeded solution.

how are you going to stop those people form using their phones if they need gps and its available on phone only or the car gps is not user friendly?
teach people to stop the car completely to check these messages, you dont have to ignore your phone, hell you might be expecting an important call or someone might need help, you pull over and answer/check messages, how hard is that?
If your phone supports NFC grab some tags and set commands to do all that when you place the phone in a cradle in the car. Automation FTW!
 
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Steed

Posts: 46   +27
The only problem with it (that I see) is that the phone, unless put on airplane mode, will use up it's battery life faster trying to find a signal.
This ! This is the exact reason this is such a lame idea !
 

jobeard

Posts: 13,977   +1,778
It does seem like people are forgetting that there are other distractions too besides mobile devices. ...
"Last year, a UK research team found that having a hands-free conversation is just as distracting for drivers as holding a phone in their hands."​

With this logic, you'd better not even talk to the driver if you are a passenger ;)
.
First, there was a study in Ohio WAY BACK when hands-free was just getting started that reached the same conclusion, so this is not new news.

And yes, conversations ARE distracting especially when emotionally charged. Spousal arguments frequently are the root causes of collisions. :'(
 
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Sebastien A.

Posts: 37   +4
Same as most issues, I think that the drivers who will actively use this feature are the the ones who actually need it in the first place.

People who already behave correctly with their phone while driving (pulling over to use it for example) will use this box. People that are constantly on their phones while driving won't even bother changing their old bad habits.

(Not everyone is the same of course, but you get the point)