Google’s annual “Santa Tracker” site is live, with new games and features being added each day from now until Christmas. When Christmas comes, as they’ve done in years past, Google will help track Santa’s journey around the world.
As we saw last year, there is also the (now separate) NORAD Tracks Santa site which is being powered by Microsoft. The result on Christmas Eve is that Santa may appear to be in two different places at once if the maps aren’t in sync, but there are some good explanations for that. Danny Sullivan did a great job of breaking down the differences in tracking software last year, including gems like this:
It might be that NORAD is somehow projecting Santa’s future location in an effort to help parents trying to usher their kids off to sleep. Personally, I long wished for this type of time-shifting, myself. Or perhaps Santa is moving so fast this year that NORAD’s systems are distorting the location. In the past, he was always spotted passing over particular places around midnight, by NORAD. Alternatively, maybe Google’s systems are lagging behind.
Regardless, it gives us two great sites to send the kids to look at and play with as the big day approaches.
As for Google’s technology, I expect we’ll see a pretty clever use of Google Maps and/or Google Earth on Christmas Eve. Their about page promises the “latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering“. No matter how it turns out, it’ll be a fun day for all involved. Check it out for yourself at google.com/santatracker.