Trends in Japan says that rice cooker manufacturer Zojirushi's latest model, the "Rizo," was designed with "the western kitchen in mind." I'm not quite sure what that means—many rice cookers, including some from Zojirushi, have been available here for a while. I don't think it's the design that's holding them back from mass market penetration, but simply that rice isn't the everyday staple for most Americans as it is for many Asian cultures. I am curious about the special "risotto mode," however; how would it do all that stirring?
Another model from Zojirushi, called the "i-pot," will send a text message to your phone if it hasn't been used in a while, the better to keep track of the elderly's behavior. I know that when my parents die I want the first person to tell me to be the rice cooker.
Zojirushi Rizo rice cooker plans western invasion [Trends in Japan]