Boeing tests Wi-Fi on planes with ... sacks of potatoes?
Who needs people when you have spuds?
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Photo: Video snapshot/MSNBC
If you’ve ever felt like a sack of potatoes, there may be a good reason why. Potatoes have a very similar dielectric constant to humans — meaning we reflect and absorb electronic signals in a corresponding manner — which is why researchers at aircraft company Boeing piled 20,000 pounds of potatoes into the seats of a test plane to work on more reliable connectivity for passengers using networked electronic devices in the air.
Dubbed Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution or SPUDS (never let it be said that metrology scientists don’t enjoy wordplay), the potato "body doubles" were used because the tests wouldn't have been truly accurate unless the effect of a full plane was included in the experiments.
Without the potatoes, Boeing would have needed to employ a plane-full of people to sit in a grounded jet for weeks while Wi-Fi signals were measured and adjusted, says Boeing spokesman Adam Tischler. The fruits of their labors? The company announced a technological breakthrough that they hope will improve sky-high Wi-Fi.
See the potatoes in action in the video below.
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