New RFID Device Could Jam Your Cell Phone While Your Car Is Moving
Drive on any road or highway, and you’ll come upon the same irritation. A car is going slowly in the left lane, or swerving in the right, or turning without using a signal. When you finally pass, you probably aren’t the least bit surprised to see what’s going on: The driver is distracted by a cell phone.
The use of mobile phones while driving isn’t just an irritation—it’s an increasingly dangerous trend. A survey by the Department of Transportation found that 18 percent of all distraction-related fatal car crashes in the United States involved a phone, and a University of Illinois study showed that talking on a phone consistently reduced drivers’ response times, whether they used a hands-free device or not. As smartphones proliferate, things are only getting worse: A recent survey of smartphone owners indicated that nearly 20 percent browse the web while driving, and data indicate that texting while driving may be even more dangerous than calling.
All of this has led dozens of counties and a majority of U.S. states to ban either calling or texting while driving. Obviously, though, inconsistently enforced laws aren’t enough to deter drivers from getting their communications fix. So a team of engineers at the Anna University of Technology in Chennai, India, has decided to use technology to force drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Their prototype system, as described in an article published yesterday in the International Journal of Enterprise Network Management, uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to automatically detect whether a car is in motion and if the driver is attempting to use a mobile phone. The system then triggers a low-range mobile jammer to prevent only the driver’s phone from operating, while allowing passengers to continue calling and texting freely.