A Very Techy Christmas

christmas-santa-claus-usb-flash-driveTechnology is often indistinguishable from magic, and that is never truer than at Christmas, when we are more likely than any other time of year to become wide-eyed at a new hack or gadget. This year, Google is empowering children to learn more about what wonders can be achieved through tech, and a new start-up hopes to make Christmas a little less stressful for everyone.

Santa Claus teaches kids to code

Now that NORAD has teamed up with Microsoft, Google has been forced to get a little more creative with its own Santa Tracker offering. This year, that consists of an entire interactive virtual village at the North Pole, complete with videos, games and educational activities (and the ability to track Santa’s sled on Christmas Eve, obviously). Children can explore the snowy town and learn about the history of Christmas all over the world, and new features are being unlocked for each day of Advent, including a Javascript project where kids can learn basic coding.

Thousands of girls program Obama’s Christmas lights

Switching on the Christmas lights always comes with a little fanfare, and the White House is no different. This year, the ceremony was pulled off in partnership with Google’s Made With Code scheme, which invited thousands of young female coders to get involved. Anyone with access to a computer was able to submit their own programmed lighting display, using beginner’s language Blockly as an easy and accessibly entry point to the world of coding.

Made With Code was launched with the goal of getting more girls interested in tech. Google’s Engineering VP Pavni Diwanji wrote a blog post on the importance of promoting coding as a viable career choice for young women, drawing on her own experiences: “As the mom of two girls, I know that technology is a pathway for their future success… Still, even as coding becomes more important, less than 1% of high school girls say they’re interested in pursuing computer sciences in college… That’s what Made With Code is about: discovering that creating something new and exciting – whether it’s a holiday tree, a video game or a driverless car – can be accomplished with the power of code.”

The lighting ceremony in President’s Park was streamed live on the ;list=UUYxRlFDqcWM4y7FfpiAN3KQ">White House YouTube channel, but the fun didn’t end there – coders are welcome to carry on sending in their own lighting programs to the White House throughout the Christmas season.

No more untangling those pesky fairy lights

It’s unlikely that Barack or Michelle got into a festive argument while sorting through the knotted Christmas light wires, but it’s a pretty common experience for most families. That age-old row while putting up the decorations could soon become a thing of the past, however, if Aura reaches its crowdfunding target.

Aura is a wireless lighting solution consisting of a power ring which can be attached to the base of the Christmas tree, and can be switched on and off using a choice of remote control or mobile app. “The power ring safely creates a magnetic field and only transfers energy when a receiver comes into its field,” say founders Hardeep Johar and Chris Higgins.

The lights come in a range of five colours and are said to last up to twenty years. Check out the Aura Kickstarter campaign here.

And now, just because, here is an early Christmas present, from everyone at ogilvydo, to you:

There are no comments

Add yours