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With SantaPhone, elves call kids asking for wish lists

Posted at 11:38 AM, Dec 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-18 11:38:39-05

SAN FRANCISCO  — Your kids can get a phone call from the North Pole this year.

The SantaPhone project from Twilio is an automated phone chat bot that lets parents arrange to receive a phone call from Santa’s headquarters. When the phone rings, kids can tell one of his helpers what they want for Christmas.

Parents schedule a call via the website, and provide their phone number and email. Twilio will text you to confirm. Then the bot, a nameless squeaky-voiced elf calls at the pre-arranged time and asks your child what they want from Santa — and of course whether they’ve been naughty or nice.

The call is recorded and sent to your email so you can download the cuteness and pass it on friends and family who didn’t think to plan ahead. (Twilio stores the calls so parents can access them, but you can ask the company to delete the recording. All calls will be automatically deleted by Dec. 25, 2017.) The company is donating $1 per call up to $10,000 to Toys for Tots.

Twilio joins other tech companies that are getting in the holiday spirit with Santa-themed products. Google’s Santa Tracker is an interactive website that lets kids color ornaments for charities, learn to code with dancing elves, and read about holiday traditions all over the world. Uber gave away ugly sweaters to riders and donated toys and coats to people in need last week.

If you’re more into traditional holiday surveillance, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) continues its six-decade tradition of tracking Santa around the world.