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Iwata Asks: In Commemoration, Part 9 - And-Kensaku

And-Kensaku, Part 3: Search Functions Worth Knowing

by the NWR Staff - September 2, 2016, 1:05 am EDT

Part 3 of And-Kensaku.

3. Search Functions Worth Knowing

Iwata - Although there are a lot more people that use search engines these days, I feel like the majority of the people that are actually using them are only using them to about three to five percent of their true potential.

Kan - You’re right on the money.

Iwata - Even I can’t personally say that I’ve mastered the art of search, so maybe it’s not my place to say, but don’t you feel that there are a lot of interesting things you can actually do with search engines that you’d like to see more people throughout the world utilize?

Kan - Yes, there are. One of those things is a function called “Wonder Wheel (※6).” This is a function that you can use by clicking “Display Search Tools” at the top of the results page and opening the sub-window. If you were to search for “Nintendo,” for instance, with this function you’d have Nintendo displayed in the middle, and then up to eight different related search terms that people are searching for, like “Nintendo employment.” And then if you lock on that word, another eight keywords display around that…

※6 “Wonder Wheel”= A function that displays up to eight keywords in a fan around an original searched keyword. Began in May of 2009. You can find out more about the “Wonder Wheel” here (Japanese).

Iwata - Like a game of association, keywords just keep piling up.

Kan - Right. It’s almost like a living organism, the way the results continue to stack up, and there’s even something a bit entertaining about it. Although, partly because we don’t promote it at all, the fact of the matter is that not many people are aware of it. Another function I’d love people to try out is the “Timeline” (※7). With this, if you search for “Nintendo,” you can research what’s happened in relation to Nintendo by era.

※7 “Timeline”= Allows for a timeline-like display of search results that are shown in chronological order. Began in October 2009. You can find more information about the “Timeline” here (Japanese).

Iwata - I see.

Kan - Another function we’ve released recently is “Realtime Search” (※8). By selecting “latest” from the period selector you can see the latest news displayed in almost real-time from places like Twitter (※9) and blogs.

※8 “Real-time Search”=A search service available to Japan starting in February of 2010. Search can even be specified in periods other than real-time such as “last 24 hours” and “last year.” You can find more information on “Real-time Search” here (Japanese).

※9 Twitter= An internet service allowing for information exchange in small 140 character or less “Tweets.” Operated by Twitter in America.

Iwata - I tried that function out myself, and it’s almost like magic - since something that was Tweeted just a couple seconds ago is picked up by the search engine and displayed in your results.

Kan - You can enjoy search results that almost feel like they’re alive themselves. In order to use these functions you have to open the sub-window, but you’re able to do all kinds of things in the regular search window as well. For instance, if you search “Kyoto weather,” the weather forecast will show up right there.

Iwata - There’s all these features like the automatic weather forecast, and the ability to have Google calculate formulas you type in like a calculator that, when you show them to someone they’re usually quite surprised - “Wow, I didn’t know it does this!”

Kan - Indeed. Even if you just input “From Kyoto to Tokyo” you can search for train transfer information. Additionally, and this is something you probably didn’t know about because it’s a service we just recently started, but if you input a package tracking number you can track where it is.

Iwata - Wow, no kidding?

Kan - Currently it only works with Yamato Transport, but all you have to do is type in “Yamato” followed by your tracking number, and the tracking information will appear.

Iwata - That’s what is so interesting about Google. The search engine isn’t stored in the computer itself, it’s on the “other side” of the internet, so there’s always these new functions being added that don’t require any kind of update on the customer’s end.

Kan - The most important point for us in our mission is always delivering the information the user wants as fast as possible. It’s just kind of a shame that not a lot of people are aware of these search window functions.

Iwata - Those that know about it take full advantage, where as those that aren’t aware stay that way.

Kan - Right. You can search “one teaspoon in cos” to easily find out the conversion, but on the average it’s not a feature that gets much use.

Iwata - What percentage of the incredibly large population of users actually use these high-end search features?

Kan - I’m not aware of the precise numbers, but I think it’s small. There’s a couple reasons - the biggest of which is that people can’t use what they don’t know about, but even of those that do know about it basic search is the most common. The reason for that is because it’s most common for people to start with a basic search and pare down from there.

Iwata - I see. So it would be great if we could use this software to let people know about the different things they could do when using a search engine.

Kan - Exactly. People that play this software should get an understanding of “And-search” and “Phrase search,” and I think that they’ll also gain a knowledge of the way world trends are displayed with Google Trends (※10).

※10 Google Trends= A service that displays how certain keyword hits have changed over time. Also shows hit percentages per country and region. Began in 2008. You can find more on “Google Trends” here (Japanese).

Iwata - So, for instance, you might find out about “what month this keyword is searched the most,” or “what region is this searched from the most,” which might further pique your interest and lead you down a path you didn’t expect.

Kan - In that sense, the Wii is something that’s supported by a very wide range of customers, and we’d love to achieve that as well, but one of the bottlenecks is the keyboard.

Iwata - Although you could say there are less people these days who’d say they’re “allergic to keyboards,” there’s still quite a few people that aren’t familiar with using them.

Kan - Exactly. We feel that one of our biggest challenges is getting as many people to use our software as possible - and that’s where “voice search” (※11) was born.

Iwata - That’s an app that can be used on Android and iPhone(※12).

※11 “Voice Search”=Google search service activated just by talking into your phone. Began in December 2009.

※12 “Android and iPhone”=Android is an OS for portable devices developed by Google. Several different devices are sold within Japan. iPhone is a smartphone developed by Apple and sold by SoftBank (editors note: at the time, the iPhone was only available through SoftBank) in Japan.

Kan - Right. If you use this then search results will be displayed just by having you talk. Personally, I think it’s a revolution in input, particularly for Asian countries like Japan that use Chinese characters.

Iwata - Those of us with the Chinese character culture are certainly at a disadvantage compared to countries with an original typewriter culture.

Kan - It takes time to convert to Chinese characters as well. In these ways, Google has various different technologies, so I hope that in addition to “And-Kensaku,” we’ll be able to collaborate with Nintendo more in the future.

Iwata - Since we have this as a starting point, it would be great if we could do something interesting in the future.

Kan - Indeed, I would love that.

Iwata - Thank you for your time today.

Kan - The pleasure was all mine.



famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)September 02, 2016

This game is crazy! (Overview video)

Awesome work with the translation as ever Matt!  :cool;

Thanks bro! Glad people are enjoying them. ^^

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