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Tracking Santa’s Journey application for iPhones and iPads

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 at a workshop at snowy Edmonton Research Park.

Santa GPS is a free app developed at Edmonton Research Park by Fission Media Group Inc. Now available on the iPhone and iPad from the Apple App Store, Santa GPS 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.

Fission Media’s CEO and creative director, Blaine Bertsch, expects to develop the product in future years for other platforms, such as Google’s Android phones. Bertsch believes the mobile software business offers significant new business opportunities for his company. He sees future business falling into three categories: service contract development such as the driver training app; build and publish apps such as the knots; and branded apps in which the Edmonton technology company creates and services apps for corporate clients.

Despite its name, Fission Media was actually the result of a fusion of two small media companies that operated for several years out of the Edmonton Research Park’s Advanced Technology Centre. Bertsch’s business partner, Fission Media’s president and executive producer Tom Dodd, has a broad background in television and digital media.

"Fission Media shows innovation can be fun," says Candace Brinsmead, vice president of technology advancement at Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, which manages the park. "It shows the diverse range of innovative companies and community that call the Edmonton Research Park home."