This article is translated by @jcasman from the original here. The author is Masato Takada (@mrtakada), RICOH, Smart Vision Business Group, Data Service Business Center, Business Development Department. Masato joined Ricoh in 1998 after studying precision mechanical engineering in college. He has been involved with R&D on user interfaces at RICOH. Masato is currently responsible for THETA app planning and product management. Fuller bio here at the bottom of this RICOH engineer interview.
Hello. I am @mrtakada from Ricoh.
The RICOH THETA Plug-in Partner Program begins today.
We would love developers to sign up for this program, for using THETA. We are sure many of you are wondering about:
- What are THETA plug-ins?
- What can they do?
To answer these questions, we would like to explain how THETA plug-ins were created, and what we would like to achieve.
2. Why Were THETA Plug-ins Created?
THETA is a camera device which can record in 360 degrees with one easy shot.
Because it is specialized in a single function, it is simple to use. It also has multiple application possibilities due to the usefulness of having a 360 degree image.
Since the first RICOH THETA release in 2013, there were many requests from various companies and colleges.
- What can be done to make THETA applicable to XX?
- Please add XX function, in order to corroborate with company/college’s own system.
However, It is impossible for RICOH alone to respond to all the requests. In 2014, Ricoh opened API/SDK to control THETA through Wi-Fi, and skillful developers around the world have developed multiple smartphone apps that can be connected to THETA.
There were some apps that we could not develop due to… various reasons. There were some functions and uses we did not even consider possible. Through all that, we experienced firsthand how “open innovation” can broaden the world by involving outside know-how.
We want to further broaden the possibilities of THETA for developers worldwide!
So we created “Plug-ins.”
3. What Can THETA’s Plug-ins Do?
THETA V is an Android based OS, so apps developed for Android run. These Android based THETA apps are called “plug-ins” by Ricoh.
With a little effort, since there are some differences from a regular Android smartphone, it is possible to customize the inside of the THETA camera.
- Grabbing 180 degrees images, which couldn’t be done with THETA
- Connecting a device with USB I/F, and controlling it from THETA
- Upload image data directly from the camera to the web and use it in realtime
From various business products to cool personal features, it’s possible to implement ideas much more freely.
Also, developed plug-ins will be transmitted to the world, using a Plug-in Store, scheduled to open in July.
4. Getting Ready for Plug-in Development
The preparation for plug-in development is easy as long as an Android application development environment is available.
First, please get a hold of a THETA V. Then, please register after checking out the details of the Plug-in Partner Program.
After a simple evaluation for registration is finalized, THETAs that have had their serial number submitted to RICOH through the site, can be unlocked by using a downloaded PC application that switches the THETA into developer mode.
(Please note that unlocked THETAs are no longer eligible for standard end-user support.)
After that, you can develop in practically the same way as normal Android apps.
As mentioned above, there are some differences from Android smartphone. Online tech support will be ready for developers who signed up. With the online tech support, along with the already opened API/SDK, we believe smooth development is possible.
We will also provide lots of useful information for development on QIITA, so please be sure to read.
THETA is a device with endless possibilities.
In order to open those possibilities, we have been readying this partner program with a policy of opening as much information and support development as possible.
Through plug-ins, let’s implement everyone’s ideas. Let’s broaden a wonderful world of 360 degrees together!