Boeing has to perform meticulous tests in its cabins to make sure in-flight Wi-Fi signals don’t affect plane navigation and communication systems, but how exactly does it perform its tests? As it turns out, with thousands of potatoes. According to the Los Angeles Times, Boeing fills its cabins with 20,000 pounds worth of potatoes to simulate the effect of the human body. The potatoes accurately depict how our bodies would reflect and absorb Wi-Fi signals as they travel through the cabin, allowing Boeing to better optimize its equipment as a result. The strange method has also dramatically shortened testing times — what took two weeks before now only takes a matter of hours.
There are other considerations for optimizing Wi-Fi in the air, of course. In a short video, the company explains how signal variations can shift dramatically even in a small area such as the armrest of a seat. Boeing then has the difficult task of finding the best Wi-Fi signal strength for passengers without interrupting critical plane systems. The new potato testing method looks to have solved some fundamental problems for the company — now it just needs to work on the slow internet speeds.