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Upcoming 3DS system update to allow users to StreetPass over internet relays

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Nintendo is building a system of server relays to allow 3DS owners living in North America and Europe to use the handheld's StreetPass functionality with greater frequency, Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata announced today during an E3 investor's presentation.

"StreetPass is very common in crowded Japan," Iwata said. "In contrast, our American and European users seem to meet each other via StreetPass less frequently, and as a result, we have not seen a significant rise in the number of people who carry their Nintendo 3DS systems in Sleep Mode. When compared with our Japanese users, it seems that fewer people are experiencing the StreetPass feature on a daily basis."

To remedy that, Nintendo will launch a system update by this fall which introduces an online network, in which 3DS owners will automatically pass StreetPass data to a central server, where it can be relayed to another 3DS owner who accesses a Wi-Fi access point at popular hubs like Starbucks and McDonald's, "among others." 28,000 of these access points already exist in the U.S., while 24,000 exist in Europe.

"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," Iwata said. "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.

"Previously the StreetPass feature required multiple Nintendo 3DS systems in Sleep Mode to be in the same location at the same time, but in this framework, 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."