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Android-driven 360-degree camera live streams 4K video

Aug 31, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 687 views
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Ricoh’s compact “Theta V” 360° camera runs Android on a Snapdragon 625, and offers WiFi, Bluetooth, and 4K imaging and live streaming.

Ricoh opened preorders for its Theta V 360° camera for $429, with shipments due in September. This update to the $349 Theta S has a similar 130.6 x 45.2 x 22.9mm footprint and 121-gram weight, but offers far greater image quality. The camera leverages an improved imaging algorithm, as well as dual 12-megapixel 1/ 2.3-inch sensors, to produce 3840 x 1920 (4K) resolution @ 30fps videos or stills, up from the 1920 x 960 pixels on the Theta S. Onboard WiFi and Bluetooth enables live, up to 4K streaming, as well as remote shooting.



Theta V 360° camera
(click images to enlarge)

The Theta V retains the dual fisheye design of the Theta S. Higher-end 360° cameras, such as Facebook’s open source, 17-camera Surround360 or the 16-camera GoPro Odyssey, offer more seamless 360-degree videos, but are much larger and more expensive, and require a tethered laptop. The Theta V appears to be of higher quality than the $229 Samsung Gear 360 smartphone accessory, and has the advantage of not requiring a tethered smartphone.


Theta V sample images
(click image to enlarge)


Snapdragon 625
IP Camera

The Theta V is built around the Qualcomm Connected Camera Platform, which runs on an octa-core, Cortex-A53 Snapdragon 625, and which forms the basis for the Yocto Linux based, Thundercomm/Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 IP Camera. The Ricoh camera runs a modified version of Android, and offers a plug-in architecture for adding features such as remote playback.

The Theta V’s shutter speed can be set in a range from 1/2500 to 60 seconds, and the device has a minimum shooting interval of four seconds. A new gyro sensor works with the existing accelerometer to provide improved tilt detection precision and top/bottom correction precision enhancements.

Low-light shooting is enabled via high-sensitivity ISO 3200 (still images) to ISO 6400 (videos, live streaming) operation. Other features include white balance mode and exposure compensation.



Theta V detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The device also provides high sound quality recording compatible with 360° Spatial Audio, using four independent microphones. Soon, Ricoh will add an optional, external “3D Microphone TA-1” accessory for even higher quality four-direction audio.

The Theta V looks like a remote control, and in fact, with the help of a wireless display adapter such as Miracast, it can be used like one. You can beam your 360° videos to a TV, and use the Theta V to control the viewpoint of the video, and zoom in and out. The device is also compatible with the Google Street View app, letting you record and publish videos to Google Maps’s Street View function.

No detailed specs were provided for the battery-powered device, but the detail view above shows a USB port, a connector for the 3D TA-1 microphone, and a tripod mount hole. There are also power, mode, shutter, and wireless buttons, as well as various LED lights to indicate status.



3D Microphone TA-1 (left) and TW-1 underwater case accessories

In addition to the 3D TA-1 mic, accessories include a stand, hard and soft cases, a strap attachment, and a cable switch. Coming soon is an underwater housing accessory called the TW-1 that enables 360° recording at up to 30 meters underwater.

 
Further information

The Theta V is available for $429, with shipments due in late September. More information may be found at Ricoh’s Theta V product page.
 

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