Can't seem to pry your eyes away from your smartphone, even when you're behind the wheel? Nissan might have a solution.
The automaker on Tuesday showed off the Smart Shield, an armrest in the Nissan Juke lined with a Faraday Cage. "Once a mobile phone is placed in the compartment, the Nissan Signal Shield creates a 'silent zone,' blocking all of the phone's incoming and outgoing cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections," Nissan explained.
Invented by physicist Michael Faraday in 1836, Faraday Cages are shielded metal enclosures that block electric fields. In this case, just place your phone in Nissan's compartment and it will basically be like the device is in airplane mode. When you reach your destination, open the compartment to see all your messages and missed calls.
Nissan said the Signal Shield is just a prototype, but the carmaker hopes it could one day offer a real solution to reduce driver distractions. Sure, you could always rely on your own willpower or desire not to die and/or kill someone as motivation to quit looking at your phone while driving. On the other hand, the lure of an unread message is sometimes hard pass up; that's where the Signal Shield comes in.
Distracted driving is a huge problem. A study released last month by analytics firm Zendrive found that "Americans use their phones nearly every single time they get behind the wheel," or during 88 percent of trips.
"Every day, that's the equivalent of people behind the wheel talking or texting on 5.6 million car rides from our sample alone," Zendrive wrote in a blog post. "When extrapolated for the entire U.S. driving population, the number goes up to roughly 600 million distracted trips a day."
Meanwhile a separate study released last month by the U.S. Governors Highway Safety Association found that pedestrian deaths increased 11 percent last year, and smartphones are partially to blame.