Boeing Used 20,000 lbs of Potatoes to Test Its In-Flight WiFi

By Rebecca J. Rosen

The spuds were, quote, "ideal stand-ins for passengers."

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Boeing

How do you ensure an even distribution of WiFi throughout an airplane's cabin as that cabin moves through the air at 35,000 feet and 500 mph?

When engineers at Boeing attempted to test different WiFi system designs, they needed to either stock the plane full of warm human bodies or find something else to use in their place. The answer? Potatoes -- 20,000 lbs of them. In a press release, the company called the spuds, quote, "ideal stand-ins for passengers," whose presence shapes the way WiFi pings around the plane's cabin.

"The vegetables' interactions with radio-wave signals mimic those of the human body," a video from Boeing explains.

See web-only content:
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/boeing-used-20-000-lbs-of-potatoes-to-test-its-in-flight-wifi/266509/

They labeled the test SPUDS: Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution. According to CNN, Boeing has donated the ersatz passengers to a food bank.

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Hey, at least he's not chatty. (Boeing)



H/t @steveashleyplus

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/boeing-used-20-000-lbs-of-potatoes-to-test-its-in-flight-wifi/266509/