Video cameras that shoot in 360 degrees are still very much a young technology, but if there is a name in the game with something resembling a track record, it might just be Ricoh with its line of Theta spherical shooters. Today the company has built on this by adding some live-streaming to its lineup, with the announcement of the Ricoh R that can stream 360-degree video continuously for up to 24 hours.
The idea of matching VR headsets up with streamed 360-degree content, essentially placing the user in the thick of the action in real-time, sounds fanciful but some progress is being made on the content side of things. A number of companies have announced these types of cameras with claimed live-streaming capabilities, such as the Nico360 and the Sphericam 2, but still, we're a ways off the type of content that is indistinguishable from from real life.
The Ricoh R isn't about to change that, but it is another step forward. The camera uses a pair of front-and-back fisheye lenses to create a spherical image that is stitched together in real time within the camera. The quality is listed as 2K resolution at 30 fps, and the video is output via HDMI or USB for up to 24 hours for viewing on computers, streaming services and VR headsets, provided the camera has a power source.
With 360-degree video streaming still a relatively new concept, the company is billing the Ricoh R as a development kit. It says it has carried out some beta testing in scenarios that include a live concert and a high school enrollment ceremony, exercises leading it to the conclusion that the technology has some real potential.
As such, it will be offering the camera, along with its SDK, image-control tools and source code to third parties to see what kinds of applications they can dream up. There's no word on pricing, but the Ricoh R is on show at CES this week and will be available in springtime 2017 (Northern Hemisphere).