Wearable Tech World Feature Article
July 07, 2014

The Happiness Blanket by British Airways Acts as a Whole-Body Mood Ring

Wearable technology is always showing up in more unusual and exotic places, and now British Airways is adding to the trend by bringing wearable technology 35,000 feet up on their transatlantic plane flights. British Airways developed a wearable device called the Happiness Blanket for a series of live experiments aimed at determining what makes passengers more comfortable during long plane flights by connecting a brainwave-measuring headband to fiber-optic infused blankets. These blankets change color with a wearer's mood, with blue signifying comfort and red signifying stress.

The results from these color changing blankets returned valuable information on what makes flight passengers the most comfortable during their plane flights, including seat design, food choices and the ability to fall asleep on the plane flight. The headbands use Bluetooth technology to wirelessly transmit brainwave pattern information directly to the blanket, while the color coding allows flight attendants and other members of the cabin crew to easily identify passengers who are in need of attention.

The study was able to determine that passengers tend to be under the most stress when they first board a plane and during takeoff, but gradually relax as the flight goes on. This relaxation is further aided once the passenger gets some food or drink in them, but ultimately the researchers discovered that the overall most comfort-inducing activity was falling asleep on the plane flight.

The study was only conducted on a small selection of flights between London and New York, but the nature of the experiment means that British Airways should only need to reenact the test when new changes are made to their airlines. Ultimately, these blankets are best suited as a litmus test for measuring passenger reactions to in-flight changes like different seats and meals, instead of forcing every single British Airways passenger to wear the device on all flights.

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