Ricoh’s “Multi-Imaging Technology” pairs a K-1 with a Theta S spherical panoramic camera


posted Friday, February 24, 2017 at 6:21 PM EDT


Tucked away in the Theta camera section of Ricoh's booth at CP+ is an interesting demonstration highlighting a unique image processing technology that combines a Theta 360-degree camera and the full-frame Pentax K-1 DSLR. The result is a rather cool multimedia experience in which high-resolution K-1 photos are overlaid and placed into the full 360-degree scene captured by the Theta camera.

First demoed at this year's CES expo in Las Vegas, nevertheless, this was the first time I'd come across the technology, and the large multi-display set up to demonstrate the capabilities struck me as rather impressive and all-around quite interesting.

The process, as I understand it, involves mounting the Theta to the hotshoe of the DSLR, in this case a K-1, and then capturing media with both cameras simultaneously. Then, the files are uploaded to a cloud-based image processing program that analyzes the 360-degree scene and then stitches-in the high-resolution DSLR images over their corresponding locations within the spherical panorama. Even more, the system can also embed videos shot from the K-1 into the spherical panorama scene, which will playback while you pan and zoom around the scene.


As you can see in the video below, having a large, multi-touch display really makes this demo quite fun to interact with, however, I can see it being just a usable on a tablet, a VR headset perhaps, and even a standard computer.

(Notice at around the 0:33s mark, they toggle the K-1 image overlay off, revealing the lower-res Theta S image underneath.)

So far, Ricoh is only demonstrating this technology as an early prototype and nothing yet has been announced in terms of products for sale or even when the public might get to try this. Still, the possibilities for this technology are quite interesting, going beyond the typical way we view still images and video content. To speculate, one could see this technology used for virtual tours of buildings; home and other areas for real estate sales, large events such as concerts; or perhaps even for photojournalists to provide unique, immersive way to tell a story of an event or location.


In the end, this is currently one of a variety of experiments Ricoh is exploring to harness the power and potential of 360-degree imaging technology and their Theta S cameras.