7 innovations for a digital Christmas
As Christmas draws ever nearer we’ve discovered some of the best ways to digitally enhance your festivities this year.
Google’s Santa Tracker
Google has been helping to find Santa on Christmas Eve ever since it launched its Google’s Santa Tracker in 2004. Google’s Santa dashboard – which features the latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering – will allow you (and your children!) to follow Santa’s progress as he makes his way around the world, learning a little about some of his stops along the way too. Since the beginning of December Google’s online Santa Village, which is designed to look like an Advent calendar, has released a new activity for children to play each day of the month.
NORAD’s Father Christmas Tracker
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) got into the business of tracking Father Christmas on December 24th by accident. In 1955 on Christmas Eve US Air Force Col. Harry Shoup took a call from a young boy wanting to talk to Santa, after a Sears ad in a local paper mistakenly printed the top secret phone number of Conad (Norad’s predecessor) instead of its hotline to Santa. In good humour the Colonal indulged the child, and the tradition was born. Last year the phone was manned by the former first Lady, Michelle Obama, who spent half an hour taking calls, along with thousands of volunteers who answered calls and emails from children (and adults) around the world. This year NORAD has once again released a website and app to let you track the bearded man as he travels the world.
UK Snow Tracker
If your Christmas isn’t complete unless it has snowed, the UK Snow Tracker maps the locations where the white stuff is falling right now. The website shows which areas have got snow, and where to head to if you want to go tobogganing. The Snow Tracker is also on Twitter. It uses crowd sourced #uksnow tweets to draw an up to date map of where it is currently snowing in the UK. The people behind the tracker encourage members of the public to tweet, using the #uksnow hashtag, and ask them to enter their location (first part of their postcode) or geotag their tweet and rate the snow that is falling out of 10 (10 being a blizzard).
Satellite technology is being used to protect Santa’s favourite reindeer from being hit by high speed trains in remote areas of Norway. The animal tracking technology, developed by company FindMy as a result of a hackathon organised by mapping authority Kartverket, have created the SaveMyReindeer app and GPS tracking collars to alert both train drivers and reindeer owners of potential collisions. Train drivers are alerted when they are approaching the herds of animals so they can accelerate to get out of the herd’s way, slow down or stop the train. The reindeer owner also receives a smartphone alert warning them that their animals may be in danger, giving them the opportunity to move their herd.
A (virtual) Trip to Lapland
A Lincolnshire flight simulation company is hosting virtual trips to Lapland this Christmas. Flightdeck Reality, based at Boston Aerodrome in Wyberton Fen, is running simulated flights to Lapland. Families can enjoy a 15-minute virtual flight in a full size Boeing 737 simulator and on “arrival” meet Santa in his grotto.
A personalised animated digital Christmas card
If you’re looking for something unusual and funny to send to your family this Christmas the folks at JibJab.com have created animated digital Christmas cards. Cast yourself in a wild winter sledge race that'll have you laughing all the way to the finish line, or as a decorator who'll risk life and limb to create the most dazzling Christmas display on the block. There are more than 30 scenarios to choose from.
Personalised video message from Santa
Enchant your kids this Christmas with a personalised video message from Santa, created by PortableNorthPole.com. Create a video for free, or pay a premium to unlock other Santa content that will impress your little ones. All the videos include a mention of your child’s name, shows pictures of them (that you’ve uploaded onto the site) in his Big Book, and lists details of their life, making the magic feel real.
From everyone at ORM, both in London and Poland, we wish you a very merry holiday season, and a happy new year!