Ken Sakamura, the Chief Judge of the Contest
RICOH THETA Developers Contest was open to the world. It was held only for about two months, but it received attention from all over the world and there were many submissions. Those who seem to know RICOH THETA inside and out handed in very convincing submissions. Some others were practical and can be used immediately, and there were eye-opening submissions.
The main judging theme was "innovation." Prizes were given based on the judging criteria: creativity (originality), future outlook (potential, extensibility) and benefit (practicality).
"Holobuilder" adds images and comment to RICOH THETA photos. It is common for 2D photos. But the vision of incorporating the function in spherical image handling, moreover the feeling of affixing stereoscopic image in space is innovative. I feel real potential in this direction. Holobuilder received the Grand Prize for its well-combined open components, and its degree of perfection and practicality as well.
"360HDR" won the Section Award since it provides a function everyone wanted for RICOH THETA. It was regarded as a normal evolution rather than innovation, but it has a high degree of perfection and is beneficial. "3D Panorama Image Measuring System PanoMeasure2" is exceptionally practical utilizing RICOH THETA and genuinely for professionals. If it becomes an easy-to-use application, it may be handy for the general population, e.g., "It can take the measure of the size of a certain space necessary at home while you are at a furniture store".
"Ambisonics360 Microphone" solves the issue immediately raised when viewing spherical movie taken using RICOH THETA, a 360-degree video combined with audio on HMD (Head-Mounted Display). The strong will to tackle the difficult issue and the potential are recognized.
Some submissions with different viewpoints from the judging criteria―highlighting on "cute" and "interesting," so to speak, came up in conversation at the judging meeting, and "Honorable Mention" was hastily established. A representative work is "Nakayoshi Box" which captures the faces of the people facing each other at the same time. This is fun to use among intimate people. (If they are not intimate, it may be very awkward.) The concept of implementing only this function and providing it in a big box is precisely innovative. This submission won the Honorable Mention as it was a total surprise.
The contest will continue next year, and we plan to add categories for "cute/interesting" to the judging criteria for the next contest. Nevertheless, we may see submissions beyond our expectations―I felt such "jack-in-a-box"-like potential through this first contest.