GE labs suggest some improvements to the Santa Claus Sleigh. A good way to introduce research, I think.
- “Iceophobic Coatings” to make the metal parts super water resistant — a boon to airborne sleighs and commercial aircraft, and to windpower mills, all of which may be subject to icing in winter operations.
- Self-powered, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) in films that can bend around various forms.
- Ceramic matrix composites (CMC) for the sleigh runners, make the sleigh quieter and stronger (these ceramics resist bullets).
- Carbon fiber composites for the frame — another product of aircraft research.
- Sodium batteries for hybrid locomotion (this would be the first reindeer/electric hybrid).
- Trip optimization mechanics and software — similar to that used by Canadian Pacific Railroad engineers — helps conserve fuel (I’m not sure how the reindeer get wired into this thing, but hey, this is all a bit of fantasy, isn’t it?).
- Wearable airborne chemical-sensor RFIDs, so Santa can be sure the milk left out with the cookies is skim, and not soured.
- Santa’s “naughty and nice” and gift request lists get reduced to a CD-sized, 500 gigabyte disk attached to his belt. He probably got this holographic data storage idea from Star Wars and R2D2.
- Wireless medical sensors allow the elves at the Home Office – North Pole to monitor Santa’s heartbeat and other vital signs through the trip.
- Sensors in Santa’s gift bag allow real-time tracking of the gifts, something the wonks at GE call Asset Intelligence Tracking Tech (why not “accurate gift delivery?” “Package targeting?”). Again, Santa’s borrowing from the trucking and rail industries for this.
Companies hitching a star to Santa’s sleigh is nothing new. It may be difficult to separate out the Coca-Cola from the Santa myth at this late date, and who remembers that “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” originally came from a project for departed department store Montgomery Ward. GE at least shows good humor.
Here at Bathtub Manor we switched to LEDs on the Christmas tree this year. The blue lights are a bit intense (more yellow and red in the mix, please, string assemblers). Travel home, shopping, recipe-finding, and most other parts of our family’s Christmas preparations are laced with cell phones, computers, internet and digital photography, and microprocessors performing music — not to mention the yearly infusions of new technology under the tree.
We live in fascinating times.
Check out the update of Santa’s headgear, too.
Tell your friends about Santa’s high-tech ride: