Remember Christmas Eve when you were a kid? “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” But you were waiting up as long as you possibly could to catch a glimpse of Santa arriving at your house. You thought he would magically appear in his sleigh with his reindeer with presents and one was especially for you!
Since 1955 the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) and the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center that became the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa’s journey on Christmas Eve to our homes. It started when kids eager to talk to Santa Claus at a major department store in Chicago instead reached Colonel Harry Shrup who was crew commander on duty. Not having the heart to disappoint the kids, he told them, “Why yes, I will find out where Santa is for you!” and started the tradition of tracking the location of Santa Claus.
The Official 2012 NORAD Tracks Santa Promo Video
Photo Credit: NORAD Tracks Santa®
The technology behind mapping the route and tracking Santa Claus as he flies around the world has a loyal following of nearly 25 million people who in real-time check on Santa on the Web, mobile devices, by email and phone. This service was provided by Google since 2007. NORAD has since moved on from working with Google to partnering with BING in 2012. A statement from NORAD posted to Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine site announced the break up of NORAD and Google and its plans to move forward with new contributors, including Microsoft, Windows Azure, Bing and iLink-systems.
With tracking on BING, it could be spotty watching Santa’s progress in 3D as easily as it had been on Google Maps. You need a web browser that supports WebGL. It is OpenGL ES 2.0 for the Web, a cross platform, royalty-free web standard for low level 3D graphics API found in Chrome or Firefox browsers. You can go to Celcium to download a few drivers and you are all set to go for the 3D sleigh ride. For more information about the tech used to track Santa check out Celium’s page.
Fun Santa Tracking Tools
For more ways to track Santa’s trip, there are several tools for little and big kids.
Keep in mind that the tracking does not officially start until 24 hours before Christmas day. Starting at 12 a.m. MST on Dec. 24, visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight. Then, at 4:00 a.m. MST (6:00 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can check on Santa’s whereabouts by calling the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) and speak to a live phone operator. They can also send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Santa’s Tracking Tool is built on Microsoft Windows Azure and Bing Maps.
iPhone/iPad/iOS apps on the iTunes store
Retail Store for Christmas Themed Products
Personalized letter from Santa; $4.95
Finally, here’s the tracking map for you to follow Santa and his reindeer.