Feeds

SPUDS ON A PLANE! Boeing boosts in-flight Wi-Fi with tater tech

And no sign of Samuel L. Jackson

Boost IT visibility and business value

Vid Boeing engineers have filled an aeroplane with potatoes to improve wireless internet coverage on flights.

Substituting their passengers for approximately 20,000 pounds (9,000kg) of potatoes, engineers at Boeing's Test & Evaluation Laboratory are trying to work out how best to propagate Wi-Fi signals through a busy aeroplane cabin. The technology is aptly called SPUDS: Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution.

One little-vaunted quality of potatoes is that they respond to electromagnetic waves in a similar way to the human body, so the sacks are a good stand-in for airline travellers.

Using potatoes instead of real people speeds up the testing period from two weeks to ten hours.

The engineers want to ensure that they can keep an aeroplane's communications and navigation systems running while boosting in-flight Wi-Fi hotspots; such access points already exist but their reception could be improved.

"One of the wonderful aspects of our improved testing is that we can describe both strong and weak signals with incredible accuracy," Boeing spokesman Adam Tischler told CNN. He added:

Engineers who are concerned primarily with operational safety of an airplane can see if the strong signals are safe for the airplane's communication and navigation systems. Meanwhile, an engineer who is concerned with getting every passenger a really good network signal can see if the weak signals are propagating through the airplane with enough power to provide a good usability experience.

The Wi-Fi-exposed spuds are donated to a food bank after testing. ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.