Santa, barred from malls and chimneys, enters homes via interactive video

A file photo of a man dressed as Santa Claus at a mall in Pennsylvania. Santa is doing virtual visits this year via an interactive website where Father Christmas answers questions as if in person. — The Patriot-News via AP

Santa cannot sit with kids in shopping malls this year, but they can still tell him their Christmas wishlist in a video chat at home.

Technology company Storyfile has come up with an artificial intelligence alternative to the holiday tradition: an interactive website where Father Christmas answers questions as if in person.

“The database has about 180, 200 questions so they can ask him quite a lot,” said Storyfile chief executive Heather Smith. “The No. 1 question so far is ‘Am I on the naughty or nice list?’, of course.”

Storyfile usually records interviews on camera with notable people such as scientists, astronauts, civil rights icons and Holocaust survivors. The answers are then prompted by voice activation on an app to give an almost seamless interaction with the subject.

Storyfile staff tested the app on children before launching, which is live until New Year’s Eve.

“The kids so far have just been amazed,” said Smith. “They really think he’s on FaceTime or something like that with them, which is the point, right? They’re adorable. I love all the reactions.”

Santa has already fielded many questions about the pandemic.

“If a child has asked me ‘Santa, is there any chance that you might come down with coronavirus?’, I tell them, like anybody else, I do exactly what I’m supposed to,” he said.

“I wear my gloves, I wash my hands, I social distance, I wear my mask. I just reiterate the important things that they’re hearing regularly.”

Depending on the response to the free app, Santa’s skills may be expanded to read out children’s letters next year. – Reuters

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Santa Claus


Did you find this article insightful?


100% readers found this article insightful

Next In Tech News

Apple’s Cook says Parler could return to App Store with reforms
WhatsApp postpones privacy changes, but Hong Kong experts say outcry has already evolved into crisis of confidence
Violent US domestic extremism may be around for a while
Inside Cyberpunk 2077’s disastrous rollout
US teens tutor peers online to fill need during pandemic
Deaths, self-immolation draw scrutiny on China tech giants
Super fast 5G in the US still a work in progress
Videogame sales hit US high in pandemic-plagued 2020
Interactive map puts web users in the thick of the US Capitol riot
Nuclear fusion group calls for building a pilot plant by the 2040s

Stories You'll Enjoy