During Nintendo’s E3 Analyst Briefing, they revealed their plans to popularize streetpass by making it fit for modern Western life. To explain the current issue with Streetpass in Western society at the moment, here’s a little backstory.
When the Nintendo 3DS system is in Sleep Mode, the wireless Streetpass hardware feature allows users who are playing any StreetPass-compatible game to automatically exchange game data with other users in close proximity who are also playing the same game. StreetPass is very common in crowded Japan. In contrast, American and European users seem to meet each other via StreetPass less frequently due to cultural differences, and as a result, they have not seen a significant rise in the number of people who carry their Nintendo 3DS systems in Sleep Mode.
When compared with Japanese users, Nintendo determined that fewer people are experiencing the StreetPass feature on a daily basis. This year, Nintendo plans to release software that opens doors for new ways to play through the StreetPass feature, such as “Animal Crossing: New Leaf.” They hope that more people around the world will be able to experience the benefits that StreetPass provides.
Nintendo plans to achieve this goal by taking advantage of Wi-Fi access points and implementing a StreetPass relay feature into the Nintendo 3DS hardware. Starbucks and McDonald’s, among others, provide about 28,000 Wi-Fi access points, which are connected automatically to Nintendo 3DS, in the U.S. and 24,000 in Europe.
They company is preparing a system update that introduces a framework that uses these access points as StreetPass relay stations by this autumn. This will involve taking a Nintendo 3DS system in Sleep Mode to an access point which will then connect automatically and send StreetPass data to a server. At the same time, the Nintendo 3DS system also receives the StreetPass data of another user from the server. In this setting, data is not exchanged directly, but rather through a StreetPass relay station. Hence, as opposed to, say, Person A and Person B directly exchanging game data, data will be transmitted in sequence from Person A to Person B, and then onto Person C and so on. The surprising and magical feeling of exchanging data with someone you simply shared a location with however, should be as real of an experience as before says Nintendo.
Previously, the StreetPass feature required multiple Nintendo 3DS systems in Sleep Mode to be in the same location at the same time. In this framework however, you can exchange data with others by visiting the same location even at a different time, so we can certainly expect the use rate of the StreetPass feature to grow significantly.