Filling a plane for a wi-fi test can be expensive. Thankfully for Boeing, potatoes share many of the same properties as passengers. The airplane maker has been using potatoes to help test in-flight wi-fi signals.
According to the BBC, Boeing loaded the passenger seats on a decommissioned plane with huge sacks of potatoes. They then did several tests to see how the potatoes reacted to different wi-fi signals.
Boeing spokesman Adam Tischler said that potatoes absorb and reflect electronic signals similarly to the human body. In addition to having similar properties to humans, potatoes are also patient, don’t complain, and can be left in a plane for days without food or water.
Boeing has also been able to rapidly speed up its wi-fi tests thanks to the help of a couple thousand pounds of potatoes. A two week test, according to Slash Gear, can now be completed in just a few hours.
But the best part about the potato testing program has to be the name, SPUDS, which stands for Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution.
SPUDS seeks to find out how on-board wireless signals interact with navigation systems. In order to do that, Boeing has to observe how wi-fi signals react when a plane is full of passengers … or potatoes.
This may be surprising news to most people but the UK Potato Council says that potatoes have many uses beyond the dinner table.
The council told the BBC:
“[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.”
Are you surprised that potatoes are being used to help Wi-Fi tests?