Ricoh offers big cash prizes (and perhaps a trip to Tokyo, too) in Theta developers’ contest [updated]


posted Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 3:38 PM EDT


Developers: Fancy taking a large cash prize to the bank, and perhaps scoring yourself a trip to Tokyo, Japan at the same time? If so, you might want to check out the Ricoh Theta × IoT Developers Contest, which kicks off tomorrow, April 1st, with registration running through to August 10th. Final submissions of gadgets and apps based around the Ricoh Theta S camera will be due by August 31st, and even if you're not one of the prize winners, you'll get early access to a beta version of Ricoh's new cloud-based Internet of Things platform, and you'll retain all rights to the product you create as your contest entry.

The contest is being held as part of Ricoh's 80th anniversary celebration, and it's the second time it has taken place. Last year's contest wasn't promoted in the US market, although developers worldwide were invited to enter. This year, though, Ricoh Imaging Americas is promoting the contest too, and the company says that contest winners will receive a trip to Tokyo for the awards ceremony, as well as "substantial" cash prizes. We're currently awaiting precise figures for the different prize levels, but last year a total of four million yen was shared between the winners, along with a further million yen of extra prizes, with first place taking one-quarter of the cash sum. At current exchange rates, that's around US$36,000 in total, another US$9,000 of extra prizes, and US$9,000 in cash pocketed by the grand prize-winner.

(Update: Now that the microsite is live, we have prize info. In total, there is a five million yen (US$45,000) prize pool this year, of which at least four million yen will be issued. One million yen (US$9,000) will go to the overall winner. There are also three section prizes of 500,000 yen (US$4,500) and five 80th Anniversary special prizes of 300,000 yen (US$2,700). Finally, the judges have it within their discretion to issue additional honorable mention awards of 100,000 yen (US$900) each. Here, there will be awards for "as many entries as the judges see fit", but presumably there is a cap at ten prizes, or the overall prize pool would be exceeded.)

The first-placed contestant last year was German startup bitstars, who created a web-based virtual tour builder with a twist. Not only could you navigate between 360-degree spherical panoramas using bitstars' creation, HoloBuilder, but it was also possible to insert 2D and 3D content into the panos. For example, you could populate a tour of an empty apartment or office with virtual furnishings to get a feel for how it would look. These added objects could even be animated, bringing the scenes to life or just adding visual interest. HoloBuilder has gone on to become a company in its own right, based out of San Francisco, California.

If you want to get your entry in or just check out the rules, you'll find them starting April 1st on the Ricoh Theta x IoT Developers Contest microsite. Want to know more about the Theta S camera that will sit at the heart of the contestants' entries? Read our in-depth Ricoh Theta S review -- and especially our Theta S field test -- for the full story as well as numerous sample images and videos.