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

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.

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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