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The RICOH THETA × IoT Developers Contest

The RICOH THETA x LoT Developers Contest

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.

The development philosophy of the RICOH THETA is “for both manufacturer and user to continually enhance and develop the product”

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.

Providing API/SDK to support development

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.

*1 BaaS(Backend as a Service) is a type of cloud computing that provides app developers with shared functions such as authenticationand management of users and equipment, push notifications, and SNS linking through the internet. App developers can incorporate these functionseasily through the use of cloud API (Application Programming Interface) and SDK (Software Development Kit).

A number of submitted works that embrace the potential

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.

RICOH THETA × IoT Developers Contest (the second contest)

One First Prize, three Second Prizes, five 80th Anniversary Prizes, and four Honorable Mentions were awarded. For more details about all of the selected works, please visit the contest site.

First Prize“Shotoku Tamago”

First Prize
“Shotoku Tamago”

The communication system displays images in the direction where a sound comes from, in real-time, by combining 360-degree, spherical movies with omnidirectional sounds.

Second Prize“THETA EYE”

Second Prize
“THETA EYE”

The web service to live stream RICOH THETA's images.

Second Prize“360 stream to AR app for image-based lighting and real-time reflections”

Second Prize
“360 stream to AR app for image-based lighting and real-time reflections”

The plug-in uses RICOH THETA's 360-degree movies to create IBL*2 for AR in real-time.

Second Prize“360EyeToEar”

Second Prize
“360EyeToEar”

The system converts visual information (a person's face) into audio information and communicates these images using sounds in real-time.

*2 IBL (image-based lighting) is a method of lighting that uses computer graphics as a light source.

RICOH THETA Developers Contests (the first contest)

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.

Grand Prize“Holobuilder – a web-based virtual reality creator using 360° Theta photos”

Grand Prize
“Holobuilder – a web-based virtual reality creator using 360° Theta photos”

Web application for adding 3D objects to fully spherical images.

Application API Section Award“360HDR”

Application API Section Award
“360HDR”

Application for HDR shooting with RICOH THETA.

Application Utility Section Award“3D Panorama Image Measuring System PanoMeasure2”

Application Utility Section Award
“3D Panorama Image Measuring System PanoMeasure2”

Application for creating drawings and measuring dimensions based on fully spherical images.

Gadget Section Award“Ambisonics360 Microphone”

Gadget Section Award
“Ambisonics360 Microphone”

Multi-channel surround microphone for recording 360 degrees of sound.

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.

Comments from the participants

- 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.