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Nintendo got 3DS StreetPass Relay idea from US business trip

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The Relay feature for Nintendo 3DS StreetPass debuted earlier this year, and a Nintendo engineer got the idea for it when he visited New York City on a business trip, according to the latest edition of Iwata Asks.

Hideki Konno, who works in the Software Development Department of Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development Division, came to America in March and was surprised at how few StreetPasses he obtained even in Times Square.

StreetPass allows 3DSes to passively transfer data between each other when the devices' owners are in close proximity. It's very popular in Japan, the region where Nintendo has racked up the most 3DS sales, because the high concentration of 3DS owners means that StreetPassing happens all the time. But according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, the amount of StreetPasses in the U.S. is only about one-tenth as many as in Japan.

"I was [StreetPassing with] much fewer people than I expected, so I thought we had better do something," said Konno.

When Konno returned to Nintendo's offices in Japan, he and a team of developers put together StreetPass Relay, which allows 3DSes to send data to a central server when a user visits a Nintendo Zone hotspot; when another 3DS owner visits that Nintendo Zone later, their 3DS will be able to receive that data. The StreetPass Relay service relies on cloud computing technology from Amazon Web Services, and uses approximately 100,000 hotspots around the globe.

StreetPass Relay was added to 3DS with a firmware update last month. However, some 3DS owners are reporting on Reddit and GameFAQs that the Relay feature isn't working properly, even with the latest firmware.