Using the Japanese Site THETA for Prototyping

[Originally posted March 8, 2016, by codetricity and jcasman]

There are a number of ways to display 360 images on your business site. Tools like HoloBuilder and Pano2VR are popular. There are also open source JavaScript viewers like Akokubo JavaScript Viewer code and Jeremy Heleine Photo Sphere Viewer.

I’ve recently been experimenting with THETA, a service offered by RICOH Japan and not available in the US. At this stage, I can only use the free service, which is limited to 50 photospheres and 500 pageviews a month. This is really only for prototyping.

In Japan, there is also a light version at 5,000 yen (approximately $45) per month with additional costs for pageviews. This may change if the service comes to the US. There is also a standard service that is based on customized enterprise pricing.

Right now, the only use of THETA in the US is to build a concept platform and then either move another viewer or contact the management of THETA and attempt to negotiate a custom contract.

As the site is only in Japanese, you’ll need to fill in the form. I provided information in English and used by Silicon Valley information. After about four business days I received an email in Japanese.

My colleague Jesse Casman translated the screen below to help you register.

With the email, you will get a username and password. Here’s the translation of the email.

Things to note

Page views are limited to 500 per month for the Free Plan.

Each time a 360 degree image is displayed on your website, that equals one page view.

If you surpass 500 page views, an “Under Construction” message will appear, and the images will not be displayed for the rest of that month.

When auto refresh is set to ON and embedded tags in your webpage are pasted directly, it’s possible it will not display after several days.

If auto refresh is OFF and the embedded tag doesn’t fit the design of the webpage, please consider using thumbnails from elsewhere and using a new window or a pop-up >window.

For example, if you follow the order of the steps below, you can display a new window, and it’s possible that until you click the thumbnail the 360 degree image will not >display.

  1. Please get embedded tags while auto refresh is on.
  2. Please use thumbnails.
  3. Please embed the link into the thumbnails.
  4. Please prepare the page that’s being linked to.
  5. Please embed the tag in the page that’s being linked to.
  6. In order to change the limit of page views, you need to change your contract to a Lite or Standard Plan.

Please note, changing your plan will take time due to processing payment information, so plan ahead with enough time.

Once you log into the system, you’ll need to go to the tour creation section.

Click on the link indicated in the graphic below.

This will lead you to the tour creation tool below.

The top portion of the tool is used to upload your map. This is a static 2D flat image of around 200px wide or less. The bottom portion is to upload your 360 images from your RICOH THETA. Once the spheres are loaded into the bottom portion, you can drag them into the map in the top portion.

Here’s the tour creation tool in use.