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Wendy is an IFE Agent responsible for aggregating airline news specifically related to Inflight entertainment. She compiles stories relevant to business travelers, airline industry folks, marketers and tech geeks. IFE News doesn't create original content, but rather posts compelling editorial from global media outlets.

Boeing Uses Potatoes to Improve Wi-Fi Signals

Boeing Uses Potatoes to Improve Wi-Fi Signals

Nancy Trejos11:29a.m. EST December 24, 2012

When Boeing Co. needed to test out in-flight wireless signals on full planes, they couldn’t ask humans to sit motionless for days at a time while they conducted experiments.

So they found an unusual substitute for people: the potato. Turns out that human beings have many more similarities to potatoes than you’d think.

According to an Associated Press report, engineers at the Chicago-based airline manufacturer used sacks of potatoes instead of passengers as they tried to find weak spots in in-flight wireless signals.

Many more planes are now outfitted with wireless capability, but the signals can be spotty 35,000 feet up in the air. The engineers needed full planes to get accurate results during signal testing and come up with ways to fine-tune the signals.

“That’s where potatoes come into the picture,” Boeing spokesman Adam Tischler told the AP.

Because of their water content and chemistry, potatoes absorb and reflect radio wave signals the same way humans do, the AP reports.

“It’s a testament to the ingenuity of these engineers. They didn’t go in with potatoes as the plan,” Tischler told the AP.

The company ended up buying 20,000 pounds of potatoes and cheekily dubbed the project Synthetic Personnel Using Dialectic Substitution, or SPUDS.

Since starting the project in 2006, Boeing has created a proprietary system that has allowed the company to fine-tune signals and ensure they don’t interfere with the plane’s navigation and communications equipment.

The company told the AP that Wi-Fi signals are already stronger on three Boeing aircraft models flown by major airlines. They are the 777, 747-8 and the 787 Dreamliner.

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