Even if the pandemic keeps you at home, Street View lets you travel the world
To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, stay-at-home restrictions have been put in place across the world. Even so, people can still use the internet to do their shopping, watch movies, and take care of other matters without leaving home.
If you have access to the internet, you can even travel the world. Although it does not have quite the impact of the real thing, with Google Maps and Street View you can visit tourist spots all over the world, and experience the magnificent scenery and majestic buildings virtually. This is thanks to completely spherical photographs that show all the surroundings in 360 degrees.
In the past such 360° spherical photographs could only be taken with special equipment. However, these days there are many inexpensive 360° cameras on the market that anyone can enjoy using. This writer too, loves using the RICOH THETA, a pioneering 360° camera for consumers.
Crowded Shibuya crossing taken with RICOH THETA m15でRICOH THETA m15で撮影した渋谷のスクランブル交差点
With the advent of the RICOH THETA, anyone can take 360° photos
The RICOH THETA camera was developed so that anyone can easily take 360° spherical photos. Two ultra-wide-angle lenses are fitted to the front and back of the camera’s rectangular body, so that with one click of the shutter you can take a 360° picture of your entire surroundings. Such 360° cameras are not so unusual now, but in 2013 when the RICOH THETA was first released it was ground-breaking.
On learning that I could easily take photographs similar to those of Street View, I immediately bought the RICOH THETA m15 and used it to take photographs and videos. Because the m15 is an old model, the quality of the image is not so good, but from this you can understand the strongpoint of the RICOH THETA: that it is as if you are actually standing in the photographed location.
Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan大阪のUniversal Studios Japan
The COVID-19 pandemic expands the RICOH THETA’s utility
Although the RICOH THETA is easy for consumers to purchase and use, it is also attracting attention in fields such as real estate, tourism, restaurants and education. Now that it is difficult to go out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, expectations for the RICOH THETA have grown even more.
In the real estate industry, 360° photographs taken with the RICOH THETA have been used as a means of introducing houses and offices for rental or sale. In the field of tourism, the RICOH THETA was used for Megurutto, a service that introduces tourist spots with 360° photos, and also for FLOWERS BY NAKED, an event where you can enjoy cherry blossom viewing while at home.
An example of RICOH THETA usage of a slightly different kind is the behavior analysis service RICOH 360-Analysis. This uses a deep learning system to analyze images taken at stores, event venues, and offices and then visualizes where people were, the number of people, and how long they were there. Because the RICOH THETA can take 360° images in a single shot, the installation is comparatively easy.
Moreover, Nippon Medical School uses 360° live streaming video shot with the RICOH THETA to show medical students and interns what medical care such as surgery is like in emergency settings.
The RICOH THETA can even be used in space
The RICOH THETA has even been launched into space. A RICOH THETA S has been modified to withstand use in space, and is used to check the operation of experimental equipment on board the International Space Station (ISS).
Viewing the photographs and videos taken on board the ISS, you could easily imagine yourself actually in space. In the post-corona era, it may become the norm to wear VR goggles and travel both on earth and in space from the comfort of your home.