Universal value created by RICOH360

RICOH360 is a “cross-industry platform service” that uses 360-degree images.

RICOH360 provides hardware, applications, and cloud services as a full package through Ricoh’s unique technological ability and services, such as RICOH THETA, a compact digital camera that can shoot 360-degree images in a single shot, and also image processing technology developed over many years.

In this article, we talk to Wataru Ohtani, who is responsible for the RICOH360 business, a cross-industry platform service. He discussed the value of RICOH360 and its future outlook.


1985     : Joined Ricoh.

1985 to 2000 : Responsible for production technology in the R&D division.
        Worked as a developer in the commercialization of three parts/products.

2000 to 2004 :   Involved in the corporate planning division with a focus on technology planning and
        produced various proposals.

2005 to 2011 :    Worked to develop technology-driven business in the R&D division.

2012 to 2016 :    Responsible for developing new business for the whole company.

2017 onwards : Responsible for the RICOH360 business.

What is the value of 360-degree images?

Since 2013, when we launched the world's first 360-degree camera RICOH THETA*, we have believed that 360-degree images have the value of "transcending time and space." 360-degree images are not images shot with a standard camera that are cropped from a scene, they record the entire space of a location so this gives a sense of realism as though you were actually at the location.

For example, regularly shooting the same place inside a building under construction allows you to record the process until completion in 360-degree images, enabling you to move backwards and forwards in that place beyond the boundary of time. The same goes for urban development. If you could record the changes in the whole city in 360 degrees, it would have historical value. You can also record 360-degree images of places where people cannot easily go, which can allow anyone to experience that place beyond the boundary of space. For example, places such as outer space and the top of Mount Everest. It can be said that these have universal value.
* For consumer use

Providing universal value with RICOH360

Amid an uncertain future that is difficult to predict, people seek something that is constant and has universal value. This is the same for any time in human history.

It’s been around 20 years since I started working to create new business and I have always continued along the path of seeking this “universal value.” I believe that when times are uncertain, this “universal value” becomes more valuable.

To achieve this “universal value,” RICOH360 is provided through a business model in the form of “SaaS (Software as a Service) + a Box (Hardware)." What I mean is that it provides the entire full package for value concerning 360-degree images from start to finish.

Smartphones are an example that is easy to understand. We enjoy services through some type of hardware. People connect to all kinds of services via hardware that physically exists. The 21st century is an era in which hardware and services are inseparable. All kinds of things, including our cars, homes, refrigerators, and air conditioners, will probably form a social system merged with services by means of communication. “SaaS + a Box” represents a business model that unites this “hardware” and “service.” I believe that the company that can do this is Ricoh because it has always worked on software and service-related businesses, as well as hardware.

RICOH360 directly connects hardware (THETA) with the cloud to virtually build a single THETA in the cloud (a digital twin). This enables images shot with THETA to be saved in the cloud without requiring the user any special operations and allows the images to be shared with necessary team members in a timely manner. Furthermore, RICOH360 users can update tens to hundreds of THETA cameras with the latest firmware via the cloud, thus allowing some control over troublesome device management and mitigating the burden on administrators.

Service providers, who provide services using 360-degree images such as the real estate, construction, and tourist industries, are now able to take advantage of RICOH360 via Cloud API.

No matter how universal the value of 360-degree images may be, if it is technically difficult to use or development takes too long, people will not use it. This is where we and RICOH360 can be of assistance.

We are proud of the fact that Ricoh is a rare company that can provide the full package ranging from hardware, image processing, and applications to cloud services related to 360 degrees.

RICOH360 platform overview

Future outlook

RICOH360’s “transcending time and space” is a value shared throughout the world. I believe it is necessary to build relationships with partners. so that we can flexibly evolve this in accordance with regions and fields.

An important aspect of building relationships with partners is sharing a vision of understanding the value and potential of 360-degree images with the aim of building a better society using this data.

The appeal of 360 degrees is the fact that anyone can stand at the center by changing their perspective, and this is the potential of RICOH360. This is where our expectations lie for dynamism that adds ideas we never would have imagined. I would like this expanding place for joint development to become a place where people gather with positive goals in pursuit of a better society, and I would like to play a part in this.