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Ricoh gets in forefront of 360-degree panorama trend with new Theta camera

We have been reporting on several new products designed to capture 360-degree photos and videos, indicating a growing trend that’s only going to get bigger (just recently, we wrote about a new 360-degree action cam). Many of these products are either still in development or seeking funding on crowdsourcing sites, but one product that’s available for sale is the Theta from Ricoh. The company just launched a new version that records video and comes in several colors.

Ricoh describes the Theta as the “world’s first fully 360-degree, spherical imaging device…that allows the entire area around the user to be captured in one shot” (although it won’t be the only one). The new version introduces “groundbreaking video capture technology with the ability to capture spherical video footage with clips up to 3 minutes in length.” Besides videos, you can shoot 360-degree photos, but all the content can only be viewed in their spherical nature via Ricoh’s mobile app or at theta360.com.

Related: Ricoh adds a sweet touch to its DSLRs with the candy-colored Pentax K-S1

The camera, which resembles a TV remote control in size, has two 180-degree fisheye lenses, one on each side. The camera actually captures multiple images and stitches them together to create a single spherical image that can be manipulated. Some argue that this process isn’t as effective as a true single-shot image, but from the samples, the Theta’s stitching seems to work well.

Formation flight of T-6 in San Diego – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The Theta will arrive in November 2014, and sell for $300. It comes in blue, yellow, white and pink.

In addition, for developers, Ricoh is opening up the software and providing a development kit that allows for third-party apps to add support for the Theta. This turns the Theta into an open platform that lets developers utilize the 360-degree video and photo capture capabilities in their apps.