Ricoh’s flagship Theta V 360 camera could soon see expanded features beyond what even Ricoh can imagine. The company announced that the Ricoh Theta Plug-In Partner Program is now up and running, and additional development tools and support are available. The program, which Ricoh first announced on January 8 at the 2018 CES Show, opens up the Theta V to third-party developers to build expanded features that leverage the 360-degree camera.
The new program allows other companies to develop their own add-ons for the 360 camera by allowing access to the application program interface (API) and software development kit (SDK), which Ricoh rolled out in April. The kind of extra features the camera gains will depend on those developers, but as proofs of concept, Ricoh pre-installed two features it developed, when it launched the Theta V. One example is the plug-in that allows a smart device to control that 360 view when viewing footage on a standard TV screen, called Remote Playback. Another is USB Data Transfer, which lets users transfer content to a portable hard drive.
Because the Theta V has an open-architecture that’s based on Android, developers don’t have to familiarize themselves with a new interface — especially if they are already developing Android apps — making it easier and faster to build these apps.These extra features will be downloadable via a new Ricoh Theta V marketplace, which will go live in July. When it opens, Ricoh will add three new plug-ins it created: Wireless Live Streaming for YouTube; Automatic Face Blur that hides the faces of strangers in your photos and videos, to respect their privacy; and File Cloud Upload, which saves images to Google Photos.
“By opening the platform for application development, we are enabling the Ricoh Theta V to be a constantly evolving product. For this reason, we are very excited about the new partner program,” Wataru Ohtani, corporate associate vice president and general manager of Ricoh’s Smart Vision Business Group, said in a press release. “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.”
Ricoh was one of the first companies to launch a consumer 360 camera in 2013, but the Theta V brings 4K and surround-sound compatibility to the line as well as low-energy Bluetooth. Using a similar design that’s shaped more like a TV remote than a camera, the V added advanced features to the line and enhanced the image quality over the company’s less expensive options such as the Theta SC. The Theta V is the first 360 camera that uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a feature that Ricoh said at the launch would open up possibilities for third-party apps along with options directly from Ricoh. With today’s launch, that capability is now available for developers.
This article was originally published by Hillary Grigonis on January 8, 2018. It has been updated by Les Shu to reflect the program is now live for developers; a plug-in marketplace that will launch in July; and three new plug-ins developed by Ricoh.