Technology has given parents quite a number of headaches, but Toyota is giving the power back to countless fathers and mothers who have to drive while dealing with troublesome children in the back seat. Thanks to a built-in microphone in one of their new minivans, it will be easier for parents to yell things like “Stop hitting each other,” “No, we’re not there yet” or “Why aren’t you making a viral video yet?” at kids in the back seats.
The 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan will offer a feature called “Driver Easy Speak.” It will empower the driver with a built-in mic, which can be used to clearly speak with (or yell at) passengers in the back seats without having to turn around or raise their voices to face-reddening degrees. Passengers in the back seats won’t have a mic of their own, which means only the driver will have an amplified voice.
The 2015 Sienna, slated to hit showrooms in the fall, will also have an optional “pull-down conversation mirror,” which will allow the driver to check on children in the back without having to turn around.
According to Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com, minivans are holding a steady 3.4 percent of the auto market. She says automakers are “on the right lines of trying to find these features that people are going to talk about.”
The features in the new Sienna may also address safety concerns for parents who deal with child-related distractions while driving. A 2011 study found that 76 percent of drivers turned around to look at passengers in the back or looked at them in their rear-view mirror, and 16 percent talked to their children in the back seat.