Ricoh opens Plug-in Program and app store for 360-degree camera developers

Friday 7/20/18 09:35am
Posted By Siddhartha Franco
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Still looking for a way to cut your teeth on the Internet of Things? It’s not always clear how to do that. Should you build an app with mass appeal? Produce a revolutionary device? Partner with a hardware manufacturer?

How about writing a plug-in for a 360-degree camera?

Ricoh, the imaging company, has a cool IoT opportunity for you in their THETA V 360-degree camera with 4K video capability. Rather than add to the flood of proprietary IoT hardware designs, Ricoh has built the THETA V around an open architecture: Android running on the Snapdragon® 625 processor. They launched the Plug-in Partner Program in June and the plug-in store this month so developers can build and market plug-ins that are designed to make the THETA V more versatile and useful.

That ought to get your IoT wheels turning, with use cases in areas like virtual reality (VR), head-mounted devices (HMDs) and external hardware integrations. Think also about uploading images directly to cloud services and building in specialized camera functions such as automatic face blurring.

Ricoh chooses Snapdragon for high performance, low power consumption and Android OS

Ricoh chose the Snapdragon 625 (based on the Qualcomm APQ8053 processor) because the chip delivers high performance due to its 64-bit, Arm-based, octa-core CPU and Adreno™ GPU, with very low power consumption. The THETA V takes advantage of the programmable Adreno 506 to perform imaging computation and run differentiating features like Ricoh’s in-house algorithm for stitching images together into a 360-degree video.

The Snapdragon 625 captures rich, 360-degree video content in 4K while enabling Ricoh to maintain the slim form factor of the THETA product line. Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi allow users to share their content easily.

Android running on the Snapdragon 625 allows Ricoh to open up programmable areas in the THETA V. Few cameras allow developers that level of access, but the open architecture means that if you know how to write an Android app, you can use the Ricoh THETA Plug-in API/SDK and Android Studio to create add-on APKs that expand the camera’s capabilities in new, cool ways. The API and SDK are available now to all developers, whether they work with hardware manufacturers, with software vendors or on their own.

Starting an ecosystem around 360-degree imaging

We like Ricoh’s approach to IoT using Snapdragon and the THETA Plug-in SDK to start an ecosystem around their 360-degree imaging platform. That means a role for everybody: device manufacturers can integrate the THETA V to new designs, developers can write plug-ins for it and consumers can browse the THETA V app store and get those plug-ins, just as they would smartphone apps.

Your turn

So, what would you build for a 360-degree camera powered by the Snapdragon 625, with the architecture, graphics and low power consumption of a smartphone?

Besides VR and HMD, think about use cases like storage expansion, security and video sharing. To get you started, Ricoh has pre-installed two samples in the THETA V: a USB data transfer plug-in for moving image files to a USB memory and from the camera to expand a storage capability, and a remote playback plug-in for sending 360-degree images to a monitor such as a TV.

Have a look at the THETA V image gallery and look through the documentation. Then, sign up for the THETA Plug-in Partner Program and get in on Ricoh’s IoT ecosystem.