Santa Claus should take note that NORAD, the Colorado Springs-based military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the United States and Canada, has been especially nice this year. The outfit has gone beyond its usual satellite-based Santa tracking by delivering free mobile device apps and games.
NORAD's tradition of tracking Santa started in 1955, with kids of all ages able to call NORAD to check on the jolly old elf's progress (and you can still do this in 2011 on Christmas Eve by calling 1-877-Hi-NORAD). Naturally, the tracking and communications processes have become more sophisticated over the years, with the rise of the Internet.
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And now with the proliferation of iPhones, iPod Touches, Android phones, iPads and other tablets, NORAD Santa tracking has kept pace. New this year is the NORAD Tracks Santa app available for free from the Apple App Store and the Android Market.
According to Colorado Springs app maker Visionbox: "The NORAD Tracks Santa App is the official mobile app of the NORAD Tracks Santa program. Watch the days countdown to Santa's flight, follow Santa's progress on December 24, play 'Elf Toss' to help Santa's elves deliver presents, and learn about NORAD and its mission."
Santa can also be tracked via a second-by-second countdown on the NORAD website as well as in 3D via Google Earth. Last year, the NORAD site had more than 15 million visitors on Christmas Eve, according to USA Today.
Check out a visual representation of the North Pole workshop to get detailed specs on Santa's sleigh (click house No. 22).
Here's a video recap of last year's Santa flight tracking action: