Ah, the Kinect. The problem with the Kinect in Japan is that one of the requirements for using it, namely open space, is pretty much one of the most expensive commodities in the country. That, paired with substandard games making the headlines, and it's not surprising that Microsoft's motion detecting Xbox peripheral does not sell well in Japan.
However, even though the game market for the Kinect is weak in Japan, Microsoft has been branching outwards to other fields. Recently in collaboration with Japan's Nichii Gakkan, the new medical operation assisting tool Opect was announced. The tool will allow surgeons in the OR to access and view patient information smoothly without a break in the operation procedure or having to handle a computer and worry about sterilization.
Other medical uses for the Kinect include OAK, the Observation and Access with Kinect system that is being developed with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo in the program for disabled children, DO-IT Japan, to assist physically and/or mentally handicapped people in communicating through subtle movements that would normally be undetectable.
These are not the first examples of the Kinect being used for non-gaming purposes, and indeed these endeavors are both noble and creative uses for the Kinect's functions. Still, it is a little sad to see the best use for a gaming peripheral as something other than gaming. (Better than a doorstop, at least…) I suppose it won't be long before the most common place to find a Kinect in Japan aside from arcades will be in hospitals and nursing homes.
重度障害児向けプログラム｜DO-IT Japan [DO-IT Japan]