DPReview Ricoh Theta V hands-on photo. Credit: Jeff Keller.

Ricoh has just announced a so-called Partner Program for the 360° Ricoh Theta V. Taking advantage of the fact that the Theta V runs the Android operating system, Ricoh is setting up a program that will allow developers to create plug-ins specifically tailored to the camera.

The idea is actually kind of brilliant, as DPReview's own Dale Baskin explains:

This is interesting because most consumer-grade 360° cameras really don’t do anything unique. What makes them useful is the software (which is why I really liked the Rylo). I think Ricoh is smart to open their platform up to developers as someone may come up with a really interesting feature that could potentially drive sales of the hardware.

What we're not clear on is to what degree developers will be able to create features from scratch, given that Ricoh uses the word "plug-in" to describe what they'll be creating. The Partner Program graphic Ricoh released isn't much help in that department either:

"Based on the Android operating system, the RICOH THETA V provides a user-friendly way for third-parties to not only create apps and software that extend and enhance the capabilities of 360-degree imaging but also new features and functionality for the camera itself," reads Ricoh's announcement. "These can include customized capabilities that enhance the RICOH THETA V's use for specialty applications and in vertical markets."

The first step is to give developers access to the Theta V API and SDK. And once the apps and plug-ins start flowing, Ricoh will make them available for download through "an online RICOH THETA V partner marketplace where plug-ins can be uploaded and shared."

We consider this a step in the right direction for Ricoh, and a good reason to keep an eye on the Theta V in the weeks and months to come. The Partner Program is set to launch in Spring of 2018, at which point Ricoh hopes the Theta V will become "a constantly evolving product."

Press Release

Ricoh announces Plug-in Partner Program for RICOH THETA V

Launching spring 2018, initiative includes an online marketplace where third parties can upload and share their Android-based plug-ins for the popular consumer 360-degree camera

LAS VEGAS (CES 2018, South Plaza, Booth #64704), January 8, 2018 - Ricoh today announced the RICOH THETA V Partner Program, which will launch in spring 2018.

The new program will support third-party developers interested in creating their own Android™-based plug-ins for the RICOH THETA V, the top-of-the-line Ricoh 360-degree camera capable of capturing fully-spherical photos and 4K video. The program will be featured at CES 2018, where attendees will be able to get a hands on experience creating their own plug-in, resulting in the creation of a new feature for the RICOH THETA V camera.

Based on the Android operating system, the RICOH THETA V provides a user-friendly way for third-parties to not only create apps and software that extend and enhance the capabilities of 360-degree imaging but also new features and functionality for the camera itself. These can include customized capabilities that enhance the RICOH THETA V's use for specialty applications and in vertical markets. As part of the program, Ricoh is making available the RICOH THETA V's application program interface (API) and software development kit (SDK) and will provide tools and guidance to support plug-in development. It will also open an online RICOH THETA V partner marketplace, where plug-ins can be uploaded and shared.

A unique plug-in preinstalled in the RICOH THETA V enables “Remote Playback,”*1 which makes it possible, using a compatible wireless display adapter, to mirror playback of 360-degree still images and video data stored on the camera on a large screen monitor.

“By opening the platform for application development, we are enabling the RICOH THETA V to be a constantly evolving product. For this reason, we are very excited about the new partner program,” said Wataru Ohtani, Corporate Associate Vice President and General Manager of Smart Vision Business Group, Ricoh Company Ltd. “The RICOH THETA V Plug-in Partner Program will enable third-party companies and developers to create custom features and services. Our goal is for consumers and businesses alike to benefit from RICOH THETA V and to become a standard platform for the 360-degree imagery.”

When launched in 2013, the RICOH THETA was the world's first 360-degree*2, single-shot camera, enabling users to express themselves in new and unique ways. 360-degree still photos and videos redefined photography by giving the viewer the ability to control what he or she sees in a scene. In addition, the resulting 360-degree images were easily shared with others, allowing them to virtually experience a scene as if they were there.

Today, the RICOH THETA cameras are being used for a broad range of consumer and business applications, ranging from documenting vacation memories to photojournalism, law enforcement, real estate listings and virtual tours, and much more.

*1. Other devices are required, including the separate wireless display adapter.
*2. In the consumer products category, a camera capable of capturing fully spherical scenes surrounding the user in one shot. (as of October, 2013 investigated by Ricoh)