Ricoh is looking for a few good developers to build apps and gadgets for its Theta 360-degree cameras. As an enticement, the company is holding its second-annual developers contest, from April 1 to August 10, in which the winner will receive a trip to Tokyo, Japan, and a cash prize of 5 million yen, or approximately $44,719.
The Theta offers an open API and SDK that let developers build iOS or Android apps that utilize the camera, or integrate features into their existing apps, such as shooting spherical photos and videos, manual shooting controls, or view the 360-degree files. In this contest, applicants will receive access to the latest platform, which Ricoh says is “optimized for cloud-based applications leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT).” An example could be a smart home security app that uses the Theta or Theta S as a security camera.
“In this age of IoT, where many objects are connected to the cloud, the value of making data and an API ’open‘ has been increasing steadily. Open environments also help drive innovation,” said Dr. Ken Sakamura, a professor at the Univeristy of Tokyo who is the contest’s head judge. “Globally, there is a trend to adopt open APIs to enable the control of products from outside a company. However, this trend is still small in the Japanese market. Through this contest, early bird access to the cloud-based API for Ricoh Theta will be available to the contestants, so I look forward to seeing the contest receive submissions that mash up the camera with new apps, new gadgets and novel IoT ideas.”
The open software is important Ricoh, in that it could turn Theta into a successful platform and help increase adoption, as well as diversify its usefulness. While the immediate use is to shoot and share 360-degree photos and videos, Ricoh is hoping third-party developers could expand on the camera’s untapped potential. Hopefully we will see some cool applications, but the contest is already hinting at how the Theta could fit into an IoT world.