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December 21, 2012

Potatoes Come in Handy for Boeing during Wi-Fi Test

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Potatoes are a popular food. In fact, the British author A.A. Milne once said, “If a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”

But Boeing (News - Alert) has found a new use for the potato. The company used potatoes instead of people to test its new Wi-Fi system, which is found on planes. The goal was to receive a strong Wi-Fi signal, but still not violate safety rules regarding interference involving a plane’s electrical system, The BBC said.

Also, wires for the Wi-Fi system are found on the ceiling and side panels of plane, and Boeing needed to identify the best signal the plane could handle as some 300 laptops are in use by human beings during a regular flight – high in the skies, All Things D said.

The company also explained in a recent video that potatoes are the “perfect stand-in for people” who otherwise would have to have sat motionless for several days. Potatoes interact with electronic signals in a similar way to humans and “replicate how airborne signals are bounced and absorbed by real-life passengers,” Engadget explained.

“We actually can use potatoes and we verified that idea in the lab here,” Dennis Lewis, a Boeing metrology engineer, said in the video while in a company lab in Seattle.

Human beings would have gotten get bored during the testing process. But the 20,000 pounds of potatoes (in sacks) didn’t complain one bit.

Two added benefits for using this vegetable rather than a living being. First, the potatoes don’t require food or drink, or even break periods. They also don’t need to get paid. And the testing process was also efficient. By using the potatoes, testing “that previously took more than two weeks to conduct was reduced to 10 hours,” Boeing explained in a company statement.




Edited by Jamie Epstein
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