Santa Tracking Goes 3D
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Friday, 23 December 2022

As the time grows close for all good developers to get their festive gifts from Santa, this year we can watch for him in 3D thanks to Microsoft and Cesium, a platform for developers to build web-based 3D map apps. 

The ability to find out where the cheerful bringer of heated mouse mats and immunity from SQL injections has got to with his sleigh full of presents is of course now very easy courtesy of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which usually devotes its time and resources to looking for dangerous incursions into US air space.

noradbanner

 

As Christmas Eve arrives NORAD put some of the use of its radar and satellite resources to the much more important task of following Santa's progress. Located in a geo-synchronous orbit at 22,300 miles above the Earth NORAD's satellites have infrared sensors, meaning they can see the heat given off by Rudolph the Reindeer's bright red nose.

noradsanta

 

The NORAD Tracks Santa website has been active since December 1, and features Santa’s North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, games, movie theater, holiday music and webstore. For some years NORAD's partner in this fun was Google, but since 2012 Microsoft has worked with NORAD and Google has set up its own Santa Tracker and Christmas village which also opened on December 1st as we reported in Google And NORAD Start Countdown to Christmas

This year's NORAD Santa tracker is 3D, and makes use of Cesium, a platform for developers to build web-based 3D map apps. The 3D tracker app uses Bing Maps satellite imagery on the 3D globe rendered by the CesiumJS library so eager Santa watchers can see what the man with the reindeer will be seeing as he makes his trip round the globe. CesiumJS is an open source JavaScript library for creating 3D globes and maps. 

For devices that do not support 3D, the app falls back to a 2D map with a pin marking Santa’s current location. If you want to know more about the locations visited, you can click on an icon that brings up Wikipedia articles and Santa Cam videos.

Starting at 4 a.m. EST on December 24 visitors can see updates on Santa's progress around the globe - in 3D courtesy of Microsoft. 

 

More Information

NORAD Tracks Santa Site

Cesium Website

Bing Maps Website

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 December 2022 )