The Ricoh THETA line of products is one that we’ve clearly grown close to over the past year or so. The simplicity, familiarity, and ease of using the THETA—no matter the model type—is enjoyable and all around awesome. It’s a product that takes digital imaging and completely immerses the user in the experience of 360-degree photo taking without the need for large rigs or confusing software. But at CES 2018, Ricoh announced a new program that promises to alter the user experience of the THETA V, it’s newest entrant into the line, in a way that has the potential to revolutionize the digital imaging space.
Essentially, Ricoh is turning their THETA V into its own developers platform for both Ricoh and interested third parties. The Plug-in Partner Program for the THETA V will introduce an online marketplace where developers can upload and share their plug-ins for the camera with the wider consumer audience, giving users new ways to get the most out of their THETA V.
In a meeting with the Ricoh team at CES 2018, they explained that there’s software in the camera that allows developers to create plug-ins in a similar way they’d create apps for the Android operating system. Ricoh has already demonstrated the potential of the platform with a pre-installed plug-in on the THETA V that allows the camera to act as a remote to control an external screen viewing experience of content on the camera.
“By opening the platform for application development, we are enabling the RICOH THETA V to be a constantly evolving product,” Wataru Ohtani, Corporate Associate Vice President and General Manager of Smart Vision Business Group, Ricoh Company Ltd., said in a statement. “The RICOH THETA V Plug-in Partner Program will enable third-party companies and developers to create custom features and services. Our goal is for consumers and businesses alike to benefit from RICOH THETA V and to become a standard platform for the 360-degree imagery.”
As part of the program, Ricoh told Dealerscope that it will make available to developers its app program interface (API), as well as the software development kit (SDK), both of which will be familiar to anyone who’s worked on the Android platform.
Some of the example plug-ins that Ricoh envisions could be coming down the line include things like voice-activated picture taking, automatic picture taking through facial recognition, automatic facial blurring, immersive video experiences, cloud storage, and more. Additionally, with the development of new plug-ins, there’s the potential for new third-party hardware to be developed. This could include things like external screens that attach to the THETA V so the user can preview an image without the need to connect to their smartphone, or a projector for viewing images right off of the device.
The development of the plug-in partner program is a big win for Ricoh on a number of levels. But from the consumer’s perspective, the potential of plug-ins further simplifies the THETA experience by eliminating the need to download all of those different apps that allow them to control their THETA. It’s an all around smart solution developed by Ricoh that also allows them to get a better grasp on the ways their product can be used—opening the door for future innovations in the THETA line.