Honda’s new cabin technology makes it easier for drivers to monitor what’s happening inside the rest of the vehicle.
One of the advantages of driving a newer vehicle is the technology factor. Some of these technologies seem very simple and are easy to incorporate, and others are very complex both in concept and implementation.
Here are a pair of technologies from Honda which have been presented to the Technology Panel of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Each is innovative and practical, and leads the way for them to be incorporated in many makes of vehicles.
Cabin Talk and Cabin Watch are standard equipment on the 2018 Honda Odyssey Touring model, but can be optioned separately on the Odyssey EX trim if equipped with the rear-seat entertainment package.
Let’s look at Cabin Talk first.
Cabin Talk is a seemingly simple technology. It allows a driver to talk easily to rear-seat passengers. Touching the Cabin Talk icon on the dashboard touchscreen mutes rear-seat audio and will pause rear-seat video if the onboard system is in use. Front-seat occupants can then talk in a normal voice and their words are picked up by the voice-command microphone incorporated into the vehicle. Amplified by the sound system, all rear-seat passengers can clearly hear the words as they are played over the rear-seat speakers. If passengers are using the rear-seat entertainment system headsets, the voice is transmitted to the headsets as well. Volume can be controlled by either the audio-system volume control or the steering wheel volume controls. Touching the back or home icons on the dashboard touchscreen turns Cabin Talk off and returns the rear-seat entertainment system to normal operation.
Having recently spent several hours on a road trip with four adults in a vehicle, and experiencing the difficulty of hearing the driver talk unless they turned to face us or talk in a very loud voice, I knew that the Cabin Talk system would have been a great advantage during our road trip. Unfortunately, we were not driving a Honda Odyssey.
As a safety feature, Cabin Talk helps keep the driver’s attention on the road because they do not need to turn their head or shout to be heard by rear-seat passengers.
Cabin Watch complements the Cabin Talk system well. Many vehicles have incorporated a curved rearview mirror that enables the driver to see rear-seat passengers, and the Honda Odyssey does as well. But the Cabin Watch system uses a ceiling-mounted camera to make seeing rear-seat passengers even easier without having to turn your head. The image is displayed on the dashboard display screen and can even be zoomed in if desired.
The system provides a clear view of all rear-seat occupants, and even enables infants in rear-seat car seats to be viewed on the screen. Two sets of infrared LEDs, invisible to the human eye use 12 LEDs to illuminate the cabin at night so the camera can see passengers, even in the dark.
Having travelled with parents who had young children in car seats, and watched how often they turned around to see what the children were doing, I can see how the Cabin Watch system is a great safety feature. The driver can now monitor the rear with just a quick glance at the dashboard screen, and the camera gives a wider view than you would get with just a quick rearward glance.
Both the Cabin Talk and Cabin Watch systems are the types of technology that makes me think, “Why didn’t someone think of that before?” They are great safety and convenience features that aid both drivers and passengers, and these technologies could easily be adopted by many manufacturers in future vehicles.
Congratulations to Honda for bringing them to the marketplace and leading the way. I look forward to seeing their application expand.