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:
Google I/O, the company’s annual conference, begins today in San Francisco. There’s no word if we’ll see anything for Google Earth unveiled, but Google Maps will certainly have a solid presence. From the Google Geo Developers blog:
Google I/O starts tomorrow, and as always, Google Maps is a big part of the show. The team has been working hard to give developers a great experience. We’re looking forward to seeing you there, or your comments online on our videos. There will be lots of maps engineers, developer relations team members, product managers and more around I/O. So if you’re there, find us, say hi and show us your apps!
In their post yesterday, Mano Marks laid out the four different Maps-related sessions that will be offered this year at I/O. He also showed off a new video they’ve released, titled “Map Up your Apps!”, encouraging mobile app developers to integrate Google Maps.
The four Maps-focused sessions sound interesting, and we’ll certainly keep you posted on any Google Earth news that comes out of I/O.