Ricoh is a global manufacturer of imaging and camera equipment with $21 billion in sales in 2016. They’re the leader in virtual reality and augmented reality cameras with an unconfirmed estimate of 1 million THETA cameras sold.
The cameras provide a 360 image sphere that can be viewed in VR headsets or on web pages such as Google Streetview.
To control the camera and move images and video between the camera and headsets, the RICOH THETA uses Google’s Open Spherical Camera API specification. Through my developer relations firm Oppkey, I’ve worked as a consultant for RICOH since the launch of the RICOH THETA S, which was the first to use the new OSC API.
Prior to the launch of the THETA S, Oppkey worked with developers to build applications for the new API at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in San Francisco. At the event, we used DHC by Restlet to show the new API to potential developers. We found it easier to use than curl or a web browser for testing. We were also able to save our HTTP tests in DHC and easily call them up to demonstrate to developers.
DHC also played an important role in the development of our API usage documentation. Currently, our developer documentation gets 30,000 views a month from developers. This started off at zero less than a year ago. In addition to serving as the basis for our HTTP usage tutorial, I was pleasantly surprised that the HTTP response could display images, allowing us to directly test image transfer from the camera to a browser inside of DHC.
We’re currently experimenting with DHC to export tests in JSON format for distribution as a downloadable file for our documentation. In the future, we’ll include this in our GitHub repository, along with our documentation.
The goal of our campaign to get people to use the THETA API is to increase the number of applications that developers build. We’ve encouraged hundreds of groups to build apps for the THETA and created a showcase of applications. Many applications like SpinCar and HoloBuilder make extensive use of the OSC API. Based on my positive experience with DHC over the past year, I recommend it to companies trying to build a vibrant community around their HTTP API.