The RICOH THETA × IoT Developers Contest was an open contest for the development of applications and gadgets using the RICOH THETA, a camera that is capable of taking 360-degree spherical images or movies in a single shot. Following the RICOH THETA Developers Contest in 2015, a second contest was held in 2016 titled the RICOH THETA x IoT Developers Contest.
Since the launch of its first model in October 2013, the RICOH THETA has provided endless possibilities to create new images by using a camera that is capable of recording scenes and innovative images that surpass the intentions and expectations of the photographer. It also provides 360-degree spherical images of viewers that surround the camera and applications that realize efficient image processing.
The development and brand philosophy that underlies the RICOH THETA is “for both manufacturer and user to continually enhance and develop the product.” With manufacturing enabling this type of interactivity, products will have new uses. Ricoh values the community of customers and developers and believes that it is important to develop products by listening to their opinions and experiences.
To further facilitate this concept and ensure that a large number of people are able to experience the world of 360-degree spherical images, Ricoh has held Developers Contests. Ricoh hopes that, through the applications and gadgets that have been created by the contest participants, the number of people who will enjoy new experiences will increase in the future.
The Application Programming Interface (API) and Software Development Kit (SDK) that are required for development were made available through the RICOH THETA DELVELOPERS website, which was established in October 2014, based on RICOH THETA's development philosophy. Users are able to develop their own original RICOH THETA applications using the API and SDK. Moreover, for the second contest, Ricoh provided the Backend as a Service (BaaS)*1 for RICOH THETA to applicants in advance, in order to streamline development.
The RICOH THETA's ability to capture images from all directions with a single shot means that it is an ideal device for providing content to applications that benefit from the emerging IoT age. However, developing IoT solutions using imaging devices such as the RICOH THETA requires development of not only equipment, but also technology and know-how, other than embedded expertise, such as development of the cloud and the building and operation of servers. As a result, longer development time and larger costs are required to develop such solutions compared with the existing product development. For this reason, Ricoh provided the Cloud API beta version to the participants who were trying to create solutions mainly through the use of imaging devices.
Ricoh commemorated the 80th anniversary of its establishment in 2016. During this period, it has been providing innovative products and services, including “Ricopy 101”, a forerunner of office automation, and “RIFAX 600S”, a facsimile that was equipped with communication technologies that led to the recommendation of an international standard, certain aspects of which are even shared with the current communication standard of smartphones. The DNA of these products has also been passed down to the RICOH THETA. The RICOH THETA is not only an imaging tool, but also a device that has the potential to contribute to the creation of social innovation through integration with sensors and robots. From this, Ricoh will continue to create and grow new businesses with its customers.
The works presented by the contests were varied in terms of both the ideas and their potential. They included solutions that allow richer communication, enabling people to re-experience their memories, and a practical measuring system. In the second contest, there were works with outstanding qualities, including a gadget created with a 3D printer.
One Grand Prize, one Section Award in each section (the Application API Section Award, the Application Utility Section Award, and the Gadget Section Award), five RICOH THETA Awards, and three Judge's Special Awards were awarded. For more information and details of all the selected works, please visit the contest site.
During the awards ceremony, there were presentations of award-winning works and movies of other works were also screened. The venue at these events was buzzing with participants' keen passion for manufacturing.
- I think that applications of the RICOH THETA will further expand with the connection to the Internet. I hope that there will be even more interesting ideas in the future.
- I thought that the event was very enjoyable because I was able to come up with a variety of uses. At the same time, I felt as if my world was expanding.
- I always think about how I will show photos of my children that I took in thirty years from now, and in keeping with this thought, I created the gadget.