British Airways mulls ingestible sensors for happier passengers

British Airways mulls ingestible sensors for happier passengers

British Airways mulls ingestible sensors for happier passengers
British Airways mulls ingestible sensors for happier passengers

British Airways passengers may soon be offered a ‘digital pill’ to help cabin crew monitor their happiness during flights.

The airline is said to be investigating the use of ingestible sensors or ‘digital pills’ to wirelessly monitor health information inside a passenger’s body. The idea is to create a technology that can assess a passenger’s wellness during flight, and to help combat jetlag by aiding their sleep, eating and exercise patterns.

Supposedly the sensors would work alongside in-cabin sleep monitors and data from wearables and smartphones, thus enabling a personalized “travel environment” for each passenger.

Related: 10 stellar real-life examples of IoT taking flight in aviation

British Airways and IoT

British Airways outlined its vision for an Internet of Things (IoT) based “system and method for controlling the travel environment of a passenger” in a patent application published by the Intellectual Property Office.

The patent indicates that British Airways is interested in monitoring things like when a passenger is awake, asleep, hungry, nervous, hot, cold or uncomfortable.

The technology it is exploring may include but is not limited to: cameras tracking body movement, sensors monitoring climate, lighting, humidity, sleep, eye movement, heart rate and body temperature. The theory is that the technology can track and monitor these conditions and adjust the cabin settings accordingly.

For example, it may recline the seat when a passenger is asleep or suggest an exercise routine to prevent tiredness. However, British Airways’ idea of an ‘ingestible pill’ is somewhat more radical. The description of the pill outlined in the patent application suggests it would include a sensor to detect internal temperature, stomach acidity and other bodily conditions, which would be relayed to the cabin crew.

Again, this data would be used by the crew to improve the travel experience of passengers. How comfortable the idea of such a pill makes passengers remains to be seen.

A British Airways spokeswoman told the London Evening Standard: “We are always looking to deliver new innovations for our customers, whether it be in design or digital transformation. as such, we develop many ideas and many patents.”

More analysis to follow

Related: BA speeds up boarding with Apple Watch