Just 15 years ago, the idea of being able to browse the internet while mid-flight would have seemed crazy, but that option is now an easy payment away for passengers. But it's not exactly as reliable as the Wi-Fi you get in your own living room. Some seats get a strong signal and are able to search and download to their heart's delight, while just a row over, someone else is struggling with a spotty signal.
Boeing has employed an interesting tool to help sort out the in-flight Wi-Fi issues: potatoes. The aircraft maker is using sacks of them to help ensure that signal strength is consistent throughout the cabin.
Wired reports, "Much of the testing was done aboard a parked airliner, and engineers needed extras to play the role of the passengers. Sacks of potatoes are cheap, they don’t need bathroom breaks and it turns out water-logged tubers interact with electronic signal properties in a manner similar to humans."
At first Boeing used sacks of spuds when testing how radio signals interacted with the plane's electrical systems, but now they're using them to test wireless signals and tune them properly so that a stronger signal can be received throughout the aircraft in the safest way possible.