Spoiler alert: it’s as efficient as a smartphone’s standard feature
Nissan returns to the Victorian era to bring back a technology (if you can call it this way) that would help drivers avoid distractions coming from their phones.
This “signal shield” is actually a Faraday cage, invented in 1836 by the English scientist Michael Faraday; this device keeps radio frequency interference away by maintaining an external electrical field.
Nissan uses this application (in prototype form) for the Juke model, lining the car’s armrest compartment with a Faraday cage and creating a “silent zone” by blocking any type of connection — cellular, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
It’s a laudable initiative — as more and more drivers are using their phones while driving, greatly increasing the risk of accidents — but its lack of efficiency makes it fall in the “ambitious but rubbish” category.
If you want to disconnect your phone, you can just simply turn it off, or, even better, switch it to Airplane mode. This way, you’ll not only get the same results as Nissan’s “silent zone” but you’ll spare the phone from continuously trying to reach signal — an energy-consuming action.
We endorse the carmakers’ initiatives in the safety department but, aside brutal measures — like using the Faraday effect for the whole cockpit, for example — the human factor is the most important one in keeping the roads safe.
… which makes us even more excited (and hopeful) about the self-driving technology.