10 Ways Technology Is Transforming the Holidays


The singer is trying to rally fans to "make history" with the first-ever cyber Christmas Carol. With a webcam or video, fans can submit videos of themselves singing "Jingle Bells" until Dec. 7. The star will compile the submissions and turn them all into one single video of the popular holiday song.

5.Track Santa's Christmas Eve Ride With Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr

Since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has tracked Santa's Christmas Eve ride around the world. In the beginning, children could call a hotline staffed by volunteers for an up-the-minute report of Santa Claus' location.

Now kids can keep tabs on Santa's progress through a website, Google Earth and Maps, Twitter updates, Facebook messages, YouTube videos and Flickr photos.

The site is available in seven languages and went live Dec. 3.

6. GPS Tracking the Baby Jesus

Misfits planning to steal the Baby Jesus from church nativity scenes are in for a surprise.

More and more churches are attaching GPS devices to their Baby Jesus so that if a ne'er do well runs off with the key component of the manger scene, they can track it down.

Brick House Security, a security and surveillance technology company, launched a program five years ago, starting with 30 communities. Now they provide free GPS trackers to churches in more than 100 communities.

Smartphone Applications Celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas

7. Hold the Holidays in Your Hands

No room for a Hanukkah menorah? No fireplace for a yule log? No matter which holiday you want to celebrate, there's a smartphone app for that.

Apple's iTunes app store is chock full of applications for holiday revelers of all kinds. The iMenorah application, for example, costs $2.99 and lets you light a virtual menorah. Just use your fingers to light the appropriate number of candles and then watch the candles burn down. The app even plays Hebrew songs.

For 99 cents, you can download the Sony Music Holiday Yule Log and watch a yule log glow on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad screen as holiday songs play.

The holiday section of the app store features apps for dreidel spinning, Christmas tree decorating, holiday baking and more.

8. High-Tech Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping is hardly anything new, but thanks to technology, it's easier than ever (some might even say, too easy) to find gifts you want at a competitive price.

ShopSavvy, for example, is a free application for the iPhone and Android phones that uses a phone's camera to scan and read product barcodes to automatically compare prices among tens of thousands of online and brick-and-mortar retailers. It tells you where to buy the product and even provides reviews and directions to the store's location.

Applications like Coupon Sherpa and Coupons on Mobile -- MobiQpons (both free) help you find and aggregate coupons for the products you want.

Other websites, like Gifts.com and Hunch.com's Gift Finder, use souped up algorithms to help you choose presents for the lucky people on your holiday list.

Still other sites make it extra easy for kids and adults to let their loved ones know what's on their holiday wish lists. For example, Amazon.com offers a wish list feature that lets users indicate books they'd like to read next and Bing's new Shopping List option lets users mark off items they like online and then share the lists with friends on Facebook.

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