I’m a big fan of 360 cameras. I’ve tested a few, written about the difficulties in posting images and videos, and uploaded lots 360 photospheres and videos.
Ricoh is one of the leaders in the 360 camera market, not least for being able to make one of the only 360 cameras that actually works. This will change, but after a long wait for Nikon, one of the biggest camera names, to finally ship their 360 camera, it shows how difficult this apparently is (or at least, difficult for Nikon because holy crap).
The Ricoh R is, largely, a Theta S. Largely. Ricoh intends the R for commercial use, and that’s where its differences might make some difference. What’s most interesting is what they plan to do to help the integration.
Roughly the same size and shape as the Theta S, the biggest difference with the R is the ability to live stream 360 videos for up to 24 hours. Though you can live stream with the Theta S, it’s not really made for this. Some users reported heat buildup issues with long live streams. The case, though similar in size, has the connection ports on the side, making it FAR easier to mount the camera to a tripod while simultaneously having HDMI and USB cables connected.
Resolution is 1920x1080 at 30 fps, which is the same as the S, but the 360 image stitching is done inside the camera instead of via external software. You can also record to a microSD card. The Theta S only has internal memory.
OK, so the camera is a slight improvement and only for people who want to live stream. What’s the cool part? Ricoh is going to offer up a software developer kit. The purpose of the R is to let business integrate a 360 camera into their worlds. The SDK will let 3rd parties come up with different applications, or integrate the 360 into their existing applications. This is really interesting, actually.
Photo Credit: Ricoh
So how about a museum that live streams from their lobby during special events. How about a restaurant live streaming their fancy open kitchen (sound off, of course, those folks swear a lot). I could imagine a zoo live streaming one of their enclosures. How about an R as a 360 security camera?
These are just a few ideas I came up with off the top of my head. The point of the R is to open up the 360 live stream to the world and let other people come up with their own clever ideas on what to do with it. That’s pretty cool.
“Following a series of beta tests with a diverse group of customers – ranging from a live concert produced by a leading entertainment company to an internet high school enrollment ceremony where students “participated” via live streaming video on virtual reality (VR) headsets – Ricoh has determined there is significant business potential for this new technology. Applications for a compact camera capable of continuous, high-quality and fully spherical video streaming are wide ranging, and Ricoh anticipates the new technology will be embraced by industries including entertainment, gaming, education, scientific research, and many others.”
The R will ship in the spring, and pricing hasn’t been announced. My guess? $400. The SC is $300, the S is $350, so… a slight bump up?
You can find out more info at RicohR.Ricoh.
Now if they’d hurry up and come out with a 4K or waterproof model (or a waterproof 4K model) I’ll be really excited.