Back in 1955, CONAD (handing it off to NORAD a few years later) began “tracking” Santa on Christmas Eve night for children to call in and get his current location. Starting in 2004, that information has been available in Google Earth and it is a stunningly popular feature.
The technology behind Google’s latest Christmas Eve tracking service is quite impressive. As explained by an article on ZDNet:
By 2013, the Santa Tracker user experience grew into a full-fledged online, snow-kissed winter village with interactive HTML5 games, keystroke animations, a soundtrack, and of course, an elaborate Google Map that can even be integrated with Chromecast for viewing on larger screens.
As part of Google I/O, there was a session titled “How 20% engineers built Santa Tracker” that explained it quite a lot. The full video of that session can be seen here:
About Mickey Mellen
Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.