Nintendo is helping to implement the use of speech recognition software in Japanese schools, in partnership with telecom company NTT. As part a project currently being trialed, speech can be captured from a classroom teacher, and relayed as text on a student’s DS handheld console.

Nintendo’s handheld console is no stranger to classrooms in Japan, with it already being used in educational settings for a variety of purposes. There are a broad range of educational titles available for the DS in the region, which focus on topics such as science, math, learning languages or even writing Kanji. This latest use of the console is unique though, in its attempt to improve accessibility in the classroom, for children with hearing or other learning difficulties.

In this trial project, which has just started in the Okinawa and Tottori Prefectures, teachers’ words are converted in to text, which is then saved to a cloud-based server. The text can then be sent to devices within the classroom, including DSi consoles, with children able to read along, while also keeping a record of the lesson to access later.

In March 2010, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto spoke of his desire to roll the DS system out to Japanese elementary and junior high schools. The relatively low cost of the console, together with the flexibility offered by its touchscreen, microphone and wireless capabilities, make it an ideal learning aid. Outside of the school system, the device has also been used by McDonalds in Japan, to train part time workers in its restaraunts, using tailor made software.

You can see a video of the voice recognition program in action below. Unless your Japanese is up to scratch though, you made need to go a few rounds with My Japanese Coach in order to fully understand it.