Boeing tests Wi-fi signal strength using sacks of potatoes in aircraft seats
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Boeing tests Wi-fi signal strength using sacks of potatoes in aircraft seats

Everett : WA : USA | Dec 22, 2012 at 9:10 AM PST
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The US plane manufacturer Boeing is using sacks of potatoes loaded on to plane seats to test signal strengths of Wi-fi. According to Boeing, potatoes "interact" with the signals in a similar way to humans.

The potatoes got free seating on a decommissioned plane for several days as the company tested for the signal strength of their Wi-fi. The potatoes have the advantage that they do not get restless and move around, whereas people no doubt would. Boeing engineers want to get the strongest possible Wi-fi signals while still meeting safety standards meant to protect the electrical systems on the aircraft.

Wireless signals fluctuate as people move about. There is weaker and stronger connectivity in different seats. Boeing engineer Dennis Lewis said: "You want your laptop to work anywhere it's located on your seat, [but] there can be significant signal changes just due to the location of the laptop." The plane had a heavy load of potatoes 20,000 lbs or about 9,000 kg. A Boeing representative said that potatoes are "the perfect stand-in for people who would otherwise have had to sit motionless for days while the data was gathered". The article does not say what happened to the potatoes after the test. Perhaps they are an Xmas bonus for employees.

The UK Potato Council maintains that the potato has many uses: ."[The examples are] in paper and ink manufacturing, potato starch is used in clothing to strengthen the fibres so they don't break during weaving, and for sweetening - glucose can be extracted from potato starch. For beauty and sores - potatoes have calming, decongestant and astringent properties and raw potatoes can calm tired eyes, potato as alcohol, and potatoes can produce electricity."

Of course potatoes are also used for such items as fries. The bad news is that wet weather in the UK has hurt the potato crop. This may mean that the cost of fries may be on the way up next year in the UK.


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northsunm32 is based in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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