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'Happiness blanket' monitors airline passengers' moods

First-class flyers on British Airways test out a mood blanket that tells everyone around them if they're feeling chilled-out or horribly anxious.

Happiness blanket
A close-up look at the fiber optics in the blanket. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

British Airways believes a high-tech blanket can tell the company how to make passengers more comfortable on flights. Dubbed the "happiness blanket," this particular piece of material is loaded with fiber optics and connects to a neurosensor device so it acts like a big comfy mood ring.

The blanket isn't handed out to every passenger. It's part of a limited experiment. It's understandable why this won't likely become a staple of flying. It requires wearing a headband outfitted with electronic gear that measures electrical fluctuations in the brain's neurons, but it's hardly high fashion.

The head-mounted gadget made by MyndPlay sends a signal to the blanket over Bluetooth. Fiber optics embedded in the blankie turn blue when the person is relaxed and red when the person is anxious, giving flight attendants an immediate visual cue as to the passenger's comfort.

British Airways conducted blanket tests on flights between London and New York. The airline notes that moods fluctuated as passengers started the flight and got settled in, but that moods improved when food and drinks were delivered. Watching thrilling in-flight entertainment also tended to send people into the red zone. Sleeping passengers snuggled under very blue blankets. Perhaps the takeaway here is that the key to a relaxing flight is flying first-class, drinking good champagne, avoiding action movies, and taking a solid nap.

So far, it appears the experiment is limited to first-class flyers, so we won't get an in-depth blanket-induced analysis of how riding in coach, sandwiched between two other people, makes you feel. I'm pretty sure I would glow like a cherry when the guy next to me cranks up the volume of his iPhone games sans earphones while the person behind me kicks my seat back.

(Via CNN)