Google Helps NORAD Track Santa

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'Twas the night before Christmas and all across the Net, marketers scurry to wind down search budgets they had met. As the last ecommerce gifts are delivered by mail, NORAD begins tracking Saint Nicholas' trail. Helping Dancer and Prancer and Pegman, too, Google released improvements Thursday to map app Street View.

Google released a series of updates to the Street View feature in Google Maps. Pegman, the company's mascot, hangs out right on top of the zoom slider, but users can drag the icon to a street on the map. Holding Pegman over an area allows users to see a preview of the location.

A smaller map in the corner lets users see an alternative image of the surrounding area in Google Maps. A split-view screen provides the ability to preview turns. And on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Pegman will sport a Santa hat.

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Where in the world is Santa? Google partnered again with NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), which has been tracking Santa for more than 50 years. Advances in GPS technology, creative animation and Google make it easier to support NORAD's ability to track Santa as he makes his way around the world on Christmas Eve.

Beginning Dec. 24 at 2:00 a.m. EST, Google will help NORAD follow Santa as he journeys around the world delivering presents to children in more than 200 countries and territories. Google will help track Santa through geolocation technology and Google Maps for computer or mobile phone, or Google Earth Plug-in.

Google also made it possible to follow updates in real-time search engine results through updates from social networks, news and micro-blogs like Twitter at @noradsanta. A Facebook page also will help folks keep up with news.

NORAD relies on several high-tech systems to track Santa, radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets, according to NORAD's Web site.

Google also set up a Web site that lets kids request a personal call from Santa. It is operated by Varitalk Holdings, but sponsored by Google. A privacy policy appears on the first click into the site.

The site, sendacallfromsanta.com, asks for the name of the recipient and the person making the request, along with the person's relationship to the recipient. It also asks for the child's location, the holiday they celebrate, the gift they want and much more.

These sites are free to use, but there also are a variety of other services that either cost a small fee or ask for a donation.

 

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