British Airways to Serve Digital Pill in Flight

British Airways digital pill

Picture by: Stuart Bailey / British Airways

British Airways could soon serve passengers a “digital pill” so it can monitor their stomach acidity levels and change their in-flight dining options accordingly.

This is just one way the British flag carrier thinks having fliers swallow an “ingestible sensor” could help improve their travel experience.

The pill would be one part of a myriad of sensors, including temperature, sleep phase and heart rate, that the airline would use to check on a passenger’s physiological state through a flight and manage their sleep times, meals and in-flight entertainment usage.

The system “for controlling the travel environment for a passenger” has been explained in a patent application filed to the Intellectual Property Office earlier this year.

“What is desired is a system that facilitates greater efficiencies within the aircraft travel environment and enables improved control and personalisation of the passenger’s travel environment, in particular for enhanced passenger wellness and wellbeing when flying,” the application says.

It cites a “Jet Lag Fighter” app from Virgin Atlantic that allows users to enter personal data to acquire a programme to alleviate jet lag as a similar approach to customer wellbeing in the industry.

British Airways reckons that by using data from a number of sources it can best understand how to manage a passenger’s sleeping, eating, stretching and entertainment preferances on flights. The sensor could help tell whether a passenger was “awake, asleep, hungry, nervous, hot, cold [or] uncomfortable” – and inform crew.

Of the “digital pill”, technology developed in the last few years, BA’s patent said: “Digital pills or other ingestible sensors, that detect internal temperature, stomach acidity and other internal properties and wirelessly relay this information outside the passenger’s body.”

According to the patent application, BA wants to create an app that helps aids passengers’ entire travel experience, from leaving their house or work, through the airport and flight, to their onward journey.


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