Here's the tech that Santa could use to make his life easier on Christmas
- Christmas Eve is an especially busy time for Santa Claus.
- Thanks to his team of talented elves and reindeer, he always delivers every year.
- But is there any technology he could use to help out?
It's that special time of year when every little girl and boy are excited to see how they'll be rewarded for a year of being well-behaved. And, of course, Santa Claus will never disappoint those who deserve to be rewarded!
But, with so many little angels around the world, how on Earth does Santa do it? Is there any technology available that he could use to help him out?
Let's look at some potential options for Jolly Ol' St. Nick!
Who is Santa Claus?
We all know Santa is real, but who is the man behind the legend? Do we even know?
According to some, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, and other names for Santa Claus have a long history rooted in Christmas customs. His legend dates back to the third century when Saint Nicholas lived on Earth and became the patron saint of kids, among many other things.
Today, he is primarily remembered as the cheery guy in red who distributes toys to good girls and boys on Christmas Eve.
The story of Santa Claus can be traced back to a Bishop named St. Nicholas, who died on December 6, AD 343. Nicholas was born sometime in the year 280 in Patara, a city in modern-day Turkey close to Myra. St. Nicholas, who was well respected for his devotion and kindness, was the focus of numerous stories.
He is said to have given away all the money he had inherited and traveled around the country to help sick and poor people.
Nicholas' reputation grew over time, and he became known as a protector of children and the poor. His feast day is observed on December 6, the anniversary of his death.
Traditionally, getting married or making significant purchases on this day was lucky. St. Nicholas was one of the most well-liked saints in Europe during the Renaissance. After the Protestant Reformation, when it became illegal to worship saints in some places, especially in Holland, St. Nicholas still had a good name.
At the end of the 18th century, St. Nicholas began to enter American popular culture. A New York newspaper stated that groups of Dutch families had gathered to commemorate the passing of "Sinter Klaas" in December 1773 and again in 1774.
Nick's Dutch moniker, Sinter Klaas, a shorter version of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for "Saint Nicholas"), gave rise to the term "Santa Claus". In 1804, John Pintard, a New York Historical Society member, gave out woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the group's annual meeting.
In the background of the engraving are images of Santa that would be familiar to people today, such as fruit and stockings full of toys hanging above a fireplace.
The History of New York author Washington Irving identified St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in 1809, contributing to the traditions of Sinter Klaas being more well-known. Sinter Klaas' notoriety increased, and he was referred to as a "rascal" wearing a blue three-cornered hat, a scarlet waistcoat, and yellow stockings, to a man sporting a broad-brimmed hat and a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose.”
Later, adaptations and embellishments of this core story were added in America and worldwide to the modern view of Santa Claus most are familiar with. But until any of us meet him in person, we can only really speculate.
How does Santa deliver presents with no chimney?
All is well and good, but how does Santa gain access to people's Christmas trees in homes without a chimney?
Well, allegedly, he has quite a few tricks up his sleeves.
Since most homes built in the last quarter of the 20th century tend to lack chimneys, Santa is more than ready to deal with this common problem.
As reported by the Bath Chronicle, the first is his magic key.
You might not be aware of this, but Santa has a magical key that allows him entry into any home worldwide. The key is so magic that it can unlock any front or back door.
His elf engineers in Lapland check this magical key once a year to ensure it is well-oiled and working properly. And because it is so nicely crafted, the door doesn't squeak or make any noise when it is opened, regardless of which house he uses it on.
The key has also been fitted with IoT connectivity to work as a universal fob for smart door locks. Pretty neat!
Should the key not work, for whatever reason, Santa has yet another option, courtesy of Mrs. Claus; magic dust!
This highly secretive concoction can be sprinkled on any window or keyhole, enabling it to be opened quickly. Santa is always concerned about the safety of those on the property.
Finally, there is yet another trick Santa can employ, too - your pets! People say that Santa's reindeer can work with the pets in a house to ensure he can get in to give gifts.
All of Santa's reindeer have a built-in radio communication system in their antlers, which alerts the pets, whether a cat or dog, that he is on the way. You may not be aware of this because it is a closely-kept secret at the North Pole.
Animals in the home are given magical abilities for just one night a year so that when Santa Claus arrives if there isn't a chimney, they may magically enlarge the cat and dog flaps so that Santa and his big tummy, full of mince pies, can fit through and distribute the presents.
It's pretty impressive, we must say.
How fast does Santa deliver presents?
So, with billions of children worldwide spread over relatively large distances, you might wonder just how fast Santa, his sleigh, and reindeer can travel to get it all done in one night. Without asking Jolly Ol' St. Nick, we've had to turn to university students to work it out for us.
And the result? Somewhere around 0.5 percent of the speed of light! This figure was reached by a group of undergraduates at the University of Leicester in 2018.
Before they started doing their math, they estimated how many homes Santa would have to visit. Santa Claus would have to see 238,000,000 homes if there were 715,000,000 Christian children on Earth and an average of three youngsters in each family.
The students calculated the time it would take Santa Claus to deliver his gifts. They estimated Santa Claus's journey time at 12 hours, but given time zones and assuming he goes from east to west; he would have up to 24 hours to finish the job.
According to these calculations, Santa Claus would need to move at a speed of 454.6 Mach (350,854.5 mph or 1.56 x 106 m/s). That is equivalent to 0.5 percent of the speed of light. The students also figured out how big Santa's wings would need to be to stay in the air. This was measured to be almost 1.26 x 10-3 m2.
Given the constraints of a two-page piece, Ridda Mahmood, one of the students, stated: "The value itself is a rough estimate, but having aerofoils of a few millimeters squared gives an approximate approximation of how much magic Santa uses."
In the future, researchers may also look at how long Santa stays at each house, how long it takes to get to and from the North Pole, and how fast the sleigh can go.
However, the students think this work offers a good perspective on the effort that Santa Claus and his reindeer must make to cheer up more than hundreds of millions of children on Christmas morning.
So, now you know!
What technology could Santa use to help him on Christmas Eve?
Santa already has an impressive array of technology to get the job done. But is there any way that Santa could "work smarter, not harder?" After all, the rest of us use technology in various ways to help lighten the load of everything we do daily.
As it turns out, there are some options that St. Nick and his elves might want to consider investing in.
1. Why not build a massive fleet of autonomous delivery drones?
With companies like Amazon heavily investing in autonomous drones for deliveries, what's stopping Santa from following suit? Why nothing!
If Santa, and his elves, were to build a fleet of, say, several million delivery drones (or should we call them "dro-ho-hones"), he could significantly reduce the need for him to deliver all those presents himself. Moreover, being autonomous and relatively small, they could be designed in such a way as to either gain entry through a chimney or, as Santa sometimes does, using a mixture of magic dust/universal key/household pet liaison as necessary.
These drones could even be cached months before the big day, with their payloads ready for departure on the big night. Something akin to hidden (perhaps even cloaked) warehouses could also be built in strategic locations worldwide.
With the pervasive use of AI and the internet, the logistics of operating, controlling, and monitoring the drone fleet should be no problem from the North Pole. There is always Starlink to help him out in areas with poor internet connectivity too!
There is also no reason the drones could be "disguised" as little Santa-and-sleigh designs or, perhaps more sensible, be given cloaking devices!
2. He could take advantage of existing logistics companies, like Amazon
Another option for Santa is to take advantage of the latest e-commerce offers - like teaming up with Amazon as a third-party vendor! Services, like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), could prove a considerable time and labor saver for Santa.
But, it would come at a cost (we doubt Amazon would provide such a service for free, even for St. Nick). These usually account for 15% of the cost of the goods, but they allegedly sometimes reach 45%.
Of course, instead of just relying on Amazon, Santa could also reach out to other smaller, independent vendors that work with a variety of tech companies to get their goods to customers as efficiently as possible. Print-on-demand services, for example, enable people to make orders for things, create them closer to the ultimate destination, and have them delivered, all with the click of a button!
In addition to reducing distribution distances, local and on-demand production makes it possible to balance supply and demand. It is also, arguably, a more sustainable way of delivering, even creating, gifts closer to all those good boys and girls worldwide!
3. Does Santa Clause use 3D printers? He should
Legend has it that Santa and his legion of elves design and build all the toys and other gifts he infallibly delivers every year on Christmas Eve. Without insider knowledge of the production facilities available to them at the North Pole, this is presumably done via sophisticated production lines refined over hundreds of years of use.
No doubt, Henry Ford would be proud of such facilities.
But, if he hasn't already "got with the program" and invested in a battery of 3D printers, he really should.
Comparing this manufacturing technique to more conventional ones, it has several benefits. These benefits include, among others, those that are time, money, and design-related.
Foremost among them is the ability to develop more complicated designs than conventional manufacturing techniques. With today's vast array of 3D printers, Santa can readily set up a system to produce all the components needed in various materials, from metals to plastics to wood and other organic materials.
3D printing will also help reduce waste, so it doesn't require much space to store his team's presumably enormous inventory.
Since the 3D design files are printed using a 3D model as either a CAD or STL file, they are all kept in a virtual library where they can be found and printed as needed. By altering individual files, changes to designs can be made for relatively little money without wasting outdated stock or spending money on tools.
Because 3D printing is a one-step manufacturing method, it reduces the time and expenses of using various machinery for production.
There is also no requirement for operators to be present at all times when using 3D printers; they can be set up and allowed to complete the task. This will give Santa and his elf crew more time to finish the other essential preparations for the big day.
4. He could clone himself and his reindeer?
There is only one Santa Claus (as far as we are aware), and he only has one set of reindeer. So, if he subscribes to the idea that "if you want a job done properly, do it yourself," he could take this more literally than he may initially think.
In that case, cloning himself and his reindeer might be the way forward. It would also raise a few eyebrows if the clones were spotted, as people expect to see Santa and his reindeer team anyway. They wouldn't know that the one they spotted is only one of the thousands of identical clones co-delivering presents worldwide!
Of course, creating the physical bodies of himself and the reindeer is only one part of the problem. He would also need to imprint the required knowledge and skills and, if true, find some way to imbue them with his potent magical abilities.
Quite how he would manage that is beyond our comprehension, but he is Santa.
5. How about Avatar-like remote-controlled delivery Santa-bots?
If cloning is out of the question, Santa might consider building an army of Santa-looking robots. These could be either semi- or fully autonomous or remotely controlled by Santa over the net.
Complimentary technologies like Starlink or Neuralink could also prove to be a game-changer for making this a genuine possibility from afar.
Such an option wouldn't have to be restricted to Santa. His reindeer could also be given robotic avatars too. Mechanical reindeer could also be outfitted with more potent and speedy propulsion systems like jet engines or, perhaps, even ramjets.
Of course, measures would have to be incorporated to make them very stealthy so they don't attract the attention of anti-aircraft systems or risk-triggering fighter responses.
But, of course, Santa is probably already well-versed in this sort of thing.
6. Digital, database, and blockchain lists
Santa is famed for his lists of all the boys and girls who have been naughty or nice in the preceding year. Presumably, this was all done in the past using pen and paper, but if he hasn't already, digitization and automation of such a list would be very beneficial for Santa.
Unless there is some special significance to maintaining such lists by hand, Santa will benefit from implementing such a system. He could, for example, convert any pro formas (and other data collection/management documents) into spreadsheets or, better yet, a centralized, perhaps cloud-based, database system.
While it may take a little while to set up, such a system could be managed with great ease, and running some clever algorithms and queries could be used to quickly pump out lists of children who've earned their presents this year. Parents could be roped in to keep the database records updated on each child's behavior throughout the year, and other authorized persons could access such data. This could be via a website or application (cross-platform, of course).
Another option could be the implementation of a Santa blockchain, too, to ensure the data security of such records since they are vital for all concerned.
By outsourcing this time-consuming task, Santa will be freed up to design more cool toys!
7. Self-assembling toys or assembly robot swarms
And finally, yet another potentially helpful tech could be to employ self-assembling toys or swarms of toy assembly robots. These little guys could be deployed en masse on Christmas Eve (perhaps from mothership drones) that can flood into properties and build any required gifts (and packaging) under the tree.
Such technology is already in development for use in future space missions, so it shouldn't be beyond the incredible engineering skills of St. Nick.
Of course, some method of providing the raw materials to the robots would be necessary, but things like cookies, carrots, milk, booze, or other treats left for Santa and his reindeer would be a good start. This would also save Santa's waistline!
If this is not possible, perhaps Santa could consider developing a suite of self-assembling toys ready for deployment on Christmas Eve. These toys could be delivered by other drones or under their own steam to the base of the tree before being instructed to assemble them into the final toy designs.
All of this would need to happen as quickly as possible and in complete secrecy to not awaken the little sleeping ones upstairs!
And that's your lot for today.
All that remains is to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Now, stop reading on the internet, and enjoy your precious time with your family and friends!