Boeing engineers use spuds to improve in-air Wi-Fi

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Associated Press

Posted on December 22, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 23 at 8:02 AM

CHICAGO (AP) — Engineers at aircraft maker Boeing Co. are using an odd mix of high and low-tech tools as they strive to iron out weak spots in onboard wireless Internet signals.

The Chicago-based company's researchers needed full planes to get accurate results during signal testing, but they couldn't ask people to sit motionless for days while data was gathered.

Boeing spokesman Adam Tischler says that's where potatoes come into the picture.

It turns out that because of their water content and chemistry, potatoes absorb and reflect radio wave signals much the same way as the human body. So, Boeing engineers put sacks of potatoes in seats to stand in for passengers.

The company says the work has greatly improved Internet connectivity on its planes.

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