Santa Trackers Part Of Our Tradition
Written by Lucy Black   
Sunday, 23 December 2018

We've wrapped gifts for family and friends and decorated the Christmas Tree and excitement is mounting. Tracking Santa's progress across the globe on mobile and desktop devices has become an established part of our countdown to Christmas.

Despite the shutdown affecting many US federal agencies, NORAD's Santa Tracker will be operating as normal on Christmas Eve. Its website, which is a collaboration with Microsoft, re-opened at the beginning of December, but it is on Christmas Eve that NORAD claims that it devotes its entire North Warning System of 47 radar installations to check for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole. For the story behind this surprising tradition, that is now in its 63rd year, see NORAD Santa Tracker Celebrates Sixty Years.

Google's Santa Tracker is also firmly established and this year is the 15th for Santa's Village where, throughout December there are interactive activities that are both fun and educational. For a  child-friendly introduction to coding for the very young, visit its Code Lab, see Google's Santa Tracker Introduces Coding Lab from 2015 when it was introduced.

The new activity for 2018 is Elf Maker that lets you customize an elf from head to toe to by choosing an outfit, accessories, hairstyle, and even facial hair. This sounds like a very traditional drag and drop activity, however the next part of it, which is train your Elf to dance, relies on the PoseNet machine learning model.

A new location sharing feature means that for the first time users of the Christmas Eve Santa Tracker will be able to track Santa’s real-time location right on Google Maps. If you have a Google Assistant enabled device, Home or a Pixel phone, you'll be able to ask "Where is Santa" and kids can also have the Assistant tell them a holiday story. 

Amazon's Alexa has a NORAD Santa Tracker Skill. With Kid skills enabled, if you ask: "Alexa, where is Santa" you will be able to track his progress on Christmas Eve, on a map on a Show device, and will also be offered "Santa facts", which include Christmas songs.

It's also worth noting that as a programmer you can have fun with Google Santa Tracker. Both the Google Santa Tracker (2016 version) and the Google Santa Tracker for Android app are open sourced on GitHub under the Apache 2 license. The web version of Santa Tracker, originally a single-page application written in Polymer 0.5 and upgraded to Polymer 1.7 works offline as a Progressive Web App, which makes it all the more interesting.



More Information

Official NORAD Santa Tracker

Google Santa Tracker

google/santa-tracker-web on GitHub

google/santa-tracker-android on GitHub

Related Articles

Where In The World Is Santa? Google and NORAD Keep Track

NORAD Santa Tracker Celebrates Sixty Years

Google's Santa Tracker Introduces Coding Lab

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Google and Microsoft Launch Rival Santa Trackers

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Norad To Track Santa With WebGL - IE Users Left Out

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Last Updated ( Monday, 24 December 2018 )