How do you make the minivan more appealing to families?  Add a microphone so that it’s easier to yell at your kids in the back!

That’s exactly what Toyota is doing with it’s latest version of its Sienna minivan.  They’ve added something called “Driver Easy Speak” which is a built-in microphone that makes it easier to amplify the driver’s voice to those in the back seats.  According to an Associated Press story, Toyota added Easy Speak so that parents wouldn’t have to shout to their kids in the back seat.  (Chances are most parents, myself included, would probably still yell if the situation warranted it).

The best part about the new feature is that it only works one way.  There is no microphone in the back.  Look for this option on the upcoming 2015 Sienna models.

Rather than using the microphone to yell, I could imagine myself using the microphone to entertain (irritate) my wife and kids by acting like a flight attendant or a tour-bus guide.  “On your right, you’ll see rolling meadow and on your left, there’s a barn and silo”.   Hours of endless fun!