Parents are in the front seats. Children in various car seat and booster seat arrangements fill the second and third rows. Can you trust everyone to keep their hands to themselves, not get motion sick, and not spill the Cheerios?
Any parent will tell you that no, no you cannot.
New in the 2018 Honda Odyssey are CabinWatch and CabinTalk technologies, which act as a sort of hallway monitor. CabinWatch allows a driver and front row passenger to see all the goings on in the rear of the car without having to turn around. Then, if need be, they can use CabinTalk to speak in a normal if even hushed tone to passengers to address behavior.
Here’s how CabinWatch works, straight from Honda:
“CabinWatch uses a ceiling-mounted camera to give parents a birds-eye view of children in the second- and third-row seats, including those in rear-facing child seats, with the image displayed on the front-mounted 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen. With infrared capability, the system works day and night, allowing a parent, for example, to monitor a sleeping child without turning on a light; and with simple smartphone-like gestures, the parents can easily zoom in and out or pan for a better view.”
CabinTalk lets you rest your voice. In Honda’s words:
“CabinTalk uses the HandsFreeLink microphone in the front row to broadcast audio (speak) to the second and third row. CabinTalk is activated using the Display Audio touchscreen, which allows the driver and front passenger to send audio to the audio system speakers (Elite trim), the rear headphones or both. When the CabinTalk app is in use, BluRay video appearing on the Rear Entertainment System is automatically paused and audio is muted (non BluRay content can be muted only). Audio and video automatically resumes when the app is closed.”
Simply, CabinWatch hand CabinTalk are genius. They work as advertised (saints be praised) and my kids said they much preferred it to being hollered at to see if they need to visit a restroom, were hungry, or required to be told (again) to stop poking each other.
CabinTalk is available in the Odyssey EX-L trim ($37,360 MSRP) and above. CabinWatch is available on the Touring grade ($44,510 MSRP) and above.
CabinWatch recently won Popular Science’s “2017 Best of What’s New” award. If you try CabinWatchh and CabinTalk out during an Odyssey test drive, it will likely win you over as well.