For parents whose children are already asking when Santa Claus is going to arrive, well — ho, ho, ho — there’s an app for that, one that was developed in a workshop at snowy Edmonton Research Park by Fission Media Group Inc. Santa GPS is a free app available on the iPhone and iPad from the Apple App Store, and is a fun way for children and parents to interact together with these smart devices.
The app uses the global positioning capability of the device to calculate and display the distance between the young user and Santa, who until December 24 is busy at his workshop at the North Pole, 4,047 kilometres from downtown Edmonton – and the Edmonton Research Park where Fission Media is housed. It also displays a clock that counts down the days, hours, minutes and, yes, seconds until Christmas.
Turn the device on its side and the display changes into a map showing where the user is in relation to Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, this feature will become a whole lot of fun as children track Santa as he dashes through 550 destinations around the world from the mid-Pacific, through Australasia, Europe, and so on to Edmonton, bringing happiness to good boys and girls everywhere.
Fission Media Group has added some fun interactive features in this year’s upgraded version of Santa GPS, which is now in its second holiday season. There is a blog from Santa that updates the children of the world on happenings at his workshop. Kids can type their gift requests into a Christmas letter to Santa and mail it off the North Pole, while Mom and Dad can help the busy elves up north keep tabs on whether the kids are behaving, with the results displayed on naughty or nice meter for each child.
Hallmark Canada is helping to bridge that distance with a donation of 2,400 Recordable Storybooks to the Canadian Forces’ annual Operation Santa Claus initiative, which provides gifts to our soldiers serving in Afghanistan during the holiday period. The books contain digital audio recorders that enable parents to record themselves and send the book back home – then, when children turn the pages, they hear Mom or Dad’s voice reading them the story.
“Nothing can take the place of being home for the holidays, but we can help in at least a virtual way to bring our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan a little closer to their children at Christmas,” said Chris Kelly, Vice President of Consumer Solutions and Brand Experience for Hallmark Canada.
“It’s a special way to help them share their love, even though they’re so far apart.”
And to close off this morning’s news posts, here is a very special Christmas video from Vancouver’s Hothead Games studio.
note – this video may not be appropriate for family viewing. 😉