By on May 10, 2017

cellphone nissan

Last week, Nissan’s European division proudly announced that it had developed a new feature for use in the Juke that effectively eliminates all cellular signals. In the release, the company praised its UK team for coming up with a 21st century application that uses Victorian-era technology, saying “the beauty of the design is its simplicity.”

Obviously, Nissan is making a play to convince news outlets to cover the prototype and highlight the company’s clever engineering and commitment to safety. While we will happily take the bait and comment on the device, we would be negligent in our duties to consider the item as anything other than an complete waste of resources. The Signal Shield is as useful to motorists as a pair of gloves would be to a person without arms. 

Literally a Faraday cage, an invention dating back to the early 1800s, Nissan’s Signal Shield allows drivers to place their cell phone into a center console that eliminates all Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communications when closed. The brand believes its invention will save lives, citing statistics from Britain’s RAC Telematics that show a significant increase of in-car smartphone usage between 2014 and 2016.

“Our research shows that handheld phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions,” RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said. “As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a handheld phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.”

“The Nissan Signal Shield is a good example of a technology that can help drivers be phone smart. For those who can’t avoid the temptation, this simple but pretty clever tech gives them a valuable mobile-free zone.”

This would make the Signal Shield an invaluable safety feature if we lived in a world where phones could not be shut off. In case you’ve never owned any electronic device in history, the vast majority feature a button or switch that allows you to make them temporarily inoperable. Don’t worry, they can be reactivated again — as if by magic — using the same process.

Another downside is that the shield is only helpful if a driver voluntarily decides to place their smartphone into the specially designed armrest. Of course, it does offer drivers the ability listen to the music stored on their smartphone via USB or auxiliary port. However, in order to change tracks when sourcing from AUX, operators would be required to remove their device from the box — risking a sudden influx of distracting text messages as the phone regains cellular service.

While we’d like to credit Nissan for making the effort here, we just can’t.  You can build your own miniature EMF shielding bag for next to nothing, or purchase one online for about ten bucks. But it’s still not an effective deterrent until you place your phone inside and toss the bag into the trunk. Meanwhile, Nissan’s solution has the object resting less than a foot away from your arm at all times. The entire concept is on par with someone securing a handgun under a couch and relying on their children’s good intentions not to play with it. Phone addicted drivers aren’t going to be defeated by a wallet-sized Faraday cage that’s less effective than simply turning the device off or placing it in airplane mode.


[Image: Nissan]

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18 Comments on “Nissan ‘Develops’ Unnecessary Signal Shield to Eliminate Smartphone Distractions While Driving...”

  • avatar

    Roll it in foil like a baked potato…

  • avatar

    I was hoping that the car itself was the cage. I’d pay money for that. As described its so disappointing.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I can’t agree with the criticism.

    Turning a device off takes more time and trouble than tossing it into a console bin, and restarting the device takes even longer. I would like knowing that upon retrieval, my phone was in the same state as when I put it away, and that it would resume communications immediately. It’s also nicer than fumbling with a foil bag.

    One downside: Many phone radios go to full power when seeking a better signal. Long drives with the phone stored inside the Faraday cage bin could result in depleted phone batteries.

    • 0 avatar

      This ^^

      I’ve been pissed Apple or Google haven’t come up with “Driving Mode” for phones. This way it automatically goes into “Do Not Disturb” mode while moving faster than 5MPH.

      It’s a much more elegant solution than a dumbass Faraday cage that will overheat your phone and kill your battery.

      • 0 avatar

        Apple and Google already have a “Driving Mode” – it’s called CarPlay and Android Auto.

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        And how would that work for joggers or cyclists who take their phone with them for music, gps tracking, or answering a call?

        How about people just be responsible. Looking for big brother or the market to solve this problem isn’t the answer.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t think I understand your question. Presumably, since Nissan is talking about a small space in vehicles where shielding would block signals to the phone, runners or cyclist who have their phone with them outside of the vehicle would be unaffected. The phone would function normally since it isn’t in a Nissan.

  • avatar

    This is just one of those overall awful ideas.

    Here’s what happens:
    1. your cell phone battery dies
    2. it takes 10 minutes to reconnect to a signal when the box is opened. Take this from someone required to put their phone in a faraday cage at work.
    3. There’s no way its faster and easier than hitting the “airplane” mode button on your phone.
    4. Here’s a cheaper easier way- just put an NFC chip on the phone holder, and have an app that automatically puts it in airplane mode when its touching the NFC chip. NFC chips are available for about 5 for a dollar, so they could do this for less than 25 cents per car, plus ive people a reason to download their app. Thank you Nissan, you can send me a check in the mail for this idea. $50,000 is suitable.

    • 0 avatar

      25 cents, eh? The profits will be great once it’s added to the $2,500 “Teen Driver Safety Package”.

      Attention, the “Teen Driver Safety Package” that you have selected requires the addition of the “Premium Package” for $3,000. Continue? Y/N

  • avatar

    Oh the hypocrisy of it all – I mean the Juke’s center armrest. The Juke is the only car model I’ve known where the center armrest is a dealer installed accessory right across the range. Not even the top model SL or NISMO come with one as standard.

  • avatar

    of course if you have to make a 911 call, do you think you really “want” that feature???

    • 0 avatar

      That’s my number one concern. If I get in a crash, my car will automatically use my phone to call 911 and provide them with my GPS location. This Nissan “feature” could very well cost me my life.

      My secondary concern is that I won’t be able to stream music from my phone. :)

    • 0 avatar


      I refuse to wear reading glasses while I drive, so I can’t look at my phone to dial or text in the car (well, actually I can look, but it’s a blur). But I do use Bluetooth connectivity and voice commands to make and receive calls, and I like knowing I can call for help (or have my car automatically call) without having to turn off airplane mode, or taking the phone out of the console and waiting for it to get a signal.

      • 0 avatar

        This. I don’t very often use it, but I can make calls hands free as well as have the unit read the texts to me if I need to. If I play music, the controls behind the wheel let me skip ahead or back if I want to.

        Then again, I get 4-5 texts per week so it isn’t a big deal. I make maybe 2 calls per week seldom in the car.

        I would hate the drive mode as I couldn’t use the phone when my wife drives.

  • avatar

    Is Nissan trying to create a market for protecting politicians from Russian hackers?

  • avatar

    How will I get maps to work or use bluetooth? Android Auto or Apple Play? Besides are we so weak that we can’t ignore a few beeps now and then. Yea I know the answer to that last one, but really don’t let these machines control you.

  • avatar
    George B

    A shielded armrest is inferior to a conventional one. As arach wrote, putting the phone in a shielded box will cause it to use extra battery power while it looks for a cellular signal. It will also take about a minute to register and connect to the cellular network when you take it out of the shielded box. In contrast, putting the phone inside a normal unshielded console would remove most of the distraction without the loss of battery life and inconvenience from registration and connection delay.

    A far superior solution would be a car-to-phone user interface that combines hands-free voice calls, phone-based GPS navigation with a big easy to read display on the dash, good voice recognition, controls on the steering wheel and dash with tactile feedback, and reasonably smart filtering of distractions based on driving conditions. For example, the phone shouldn’t add distractions any time the turn signal indicator is on, delaying notifications until after the turn or lane change has been completed.

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