Archive for the ‘Navigation and GPS’ Category

Google and NORAD Team Up to Track Santa

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Google and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have teamed up again this year to track Santa as he makes his famous run on Christmas Eve. NORAD has been doing this since 1955, being joined by Google in 2007. This year there are kid games on the tracking web site as well as the usual countdown.

Santa tracking officially begins at 2:00 am EST on December 24. You have a couple of options in the method of tracking. Google Earth and Google Maps are available on your desktop. Google Maps will also track Santa on your phone. Just search for “Santa” whichever method you choose.

Here is the video from last year’s Santa tracking:

From your computer, go to to start tracking. From your mobile browser, you can go to The site’s content changes daily to keep your kids entertained as they wait for the big day. My kids are pretty excited from all the contact they’ve received from Santa, so tracking him will really make their day. Hopefully your kids will have as much fun as mine waiting for Santa this year – at least until they have to go to bed.

Voice Actions for Android

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Google hosted a press conference today, and had some pretty exciting news to share. Among the items discussed, Voice Actions for Android is among the cooler features. It is limited to Froyo users, so if you don’t have it yet this is something you’ll have to look forward to.

“Voice Actions are a series of spoken commands that let you control your phone using your voice. Call businesses and contacts, send texts and email, listen to music, browse the web, and complete common tasks, all just by speaking into your phone.”
Google Mobile Blog

Using Voice Actions is pretty basic. You press the microphone button and just talk. This is really going to change the way we use mobile phones. As they point out in the video, phones are designed to speak into. This feature helps a phone realize its full potential. Imagine being able to speak an email or text message, or to call someone without having to set up voice dialing on the device. I am looking forward to the navigation features. With this feature you won’t have to wait to start your trip until you’ve typed in your destination. You can just push the button and talk at any time. From the preview at the I/O conference to the video below, this product appears to really work.

If you have Froyo, you just scored. If you don’t have it yet, I share your eager anticipation. The phone I am about to pick up is stuck on Android 1.6 for now. I think Google really knocked this one out of the park. I’ll try to test it out on some alternative devices and report back about how it works. Be sure to check out the video below.

Tom Tom Does Star Wars

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010


TomTom has added Star Wars sounds and images to its navigation device. You can get your directions from one of the available favorites from the original trilogy.

TomTom Star Wars

For $12.95, you can download the voice of Darth Vader, C3PO, or Yoda. Han Solo is coming soon, reportedly in August. If you can’t wait to get Han Solo, you can sign up for an e-mail alert so you will know when he is available.

TomTom has a Star Wars game to get you in the mood for its Star Wars characters. It’s actually pretty fun. If you want a preview of what the Kinect for Xbox 360 might feel like, be sure to check out the game. You “use the force” by holding your hand in front of your webcam to manipulate objects on the screen. It is harder than it looks. Once you are done you can post your scores to Twitter or Facebook.

You can check out the whole Star Wars section of the TomTom site here. There are a couple of fun videos of Darth Vader and Yoda in the recording studio as well. The Yoda one is the better of the two. I included it below.

If this were available on Google Maps it would be great. TomTom scored pretty big with this Star Wars campaign. Be sure to check it out.

I got an email from TomTom this morning (August 6) indicating that the Han Solo voice is now available. Enjoy.