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Boeing used potatoes to improve its Wi-Fi capabilities on airplanes

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Boeing used potatoes to improve its Wi-Fi capabilities on airplanes
When Boeing was testing Wi-Fi on airplanes, looking to find ways to eliminate spots where the signal was weak, they needed to load up the planes with passengers and ask them to remain motionless during the tests. So where could Boeing find enough people to sit in an airplane for hours without moving? How about the supermarket.

Sacks of potatoes fill in for humans as Boeing tests Wi-Fi on planes

Sacks of potatoes fill in for humans as Boeing tests Wi-Fi on planes

Obviously the Seattle based airplane manufacturer isn't going to find people who can sit for days without moving. So they went to the local market and picked up enough bags of potatoes to represent a sold out airliner without an empty seat. The reason this works is that due to the water content and chemistry of the potato, it absorbs and reflects radio waves the same way the human body does.

Boeing engineers didn't have the idea in mind to substitute potatoes for the testing until a member of the research team read an article in the Journal of Food Science which listed how 15 vegetables and fruits each transmitted electricity without conduction. While the research team was skeptical, they went ahead and purchased 20,000 pounds of potatoes. Sacks filled with spuds were strapped into airline seats as Boeing collected readings on the strength and weakness of Wi-Fi signals in various spots on the plane. Statistical analysis was added to the results to allow Boeing to produce a unique method for fine tuning internet signals, allowing a laptop user to have a strong usable connection to the internet even 35,000 feet up.

The results have allowed Boeing to offer stronger Wi-Fi signals on three of its planes now used by major airliners: the Boeing 777, Boeing 747-8 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. By the way, Boeing named the project Synthetic Personnel Using Dialectic Substitution. That's right, SPUDS.

source: AP

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posted on 23 Dec 2012, 19:44 11

1. BattleBrat (Posts: 1070; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


I salute you mighty spud! (duct tapes potato to back of iPhone, 4 bars FTW!)

posted on 23 Dec 2012, 22:03 3

3. androidisbaws (banned) (Posts: 74; Member since: 17 Dec 2012)


you should've got an android. You wouldn't have wifi issues in the first place. Not that tot you mentioned.

posted on 23 Dec 2012, 23:27 1

6. BattleBrat (Posts: 1070; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


I have a 4s, but I use a RAZR

posted on 23 Dec 2012, 21:49 7

2. androidisbaws (banned) (Posts: 74; Member since: 17 Dec 2012)


Boeing should make their wifi free for android users and charge a premium for Apple users. They'd make a ton of money and apple users are used to paying a premium.

posted on 24 Dec 2012, 11:54

7. nak1017 (Posts: 328; Member since: 08 Jan 2010)


If it's Boeing, they're going to do Blackberries for free and not support anything else...

posted on 23 Dec 2012, 22:34

4. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Laptop not lap top, but interesting article.

posted on 23 Dec 2012, 22:50

5. Alan01 (Posts: 185; Member since: 21 Mar 2012)


Thanks for the heads up on that. Problem was that since this story concerned potatoes, I consulted Dan Qualye and he told me to put the space in between!

Alan F.

posted on 24 Dec 2012, 11:56 1

8. nak1017 (Posts: 328; Member since: 08 Jan 2010)


You should see how Boeing tests the toilets... Dog food, Butter and Candy Bars... Happy Holidays Y'all!

posted on 26 Dec 2012, 07:16

9. Reluctant_Human (Posts: 856; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


The ultimate test for a toilet is Taco Bell.

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