Ricoh have been working on a very small, portable device that takes a spherical 360 panorama in one shot and sends it automatically to a smartphone or tablet. It uses two 180-dgree lenses, combining the image internally before sending the result for viewing.
At this point there was no information about image size and resolution. Currently it only takes stills, but the company is considering trying to also capture video. At this point there. As the Ricoh demonstrator explains:
"It has two fish-eye lenses, each of which covers 180 degrees. The camera combines the two pictures, and sends them via Wi-Fi to a tablet or smartphone for viewing. The idea is, the pictures you take arrive automatically. When viewing it like a regular panoramic image, you can also see up and down. When you pull out from the image, it finally becomes a circle, and you can also look at it as a sphere."
"This camera represents a step beyond SLRs and compact cameras. The project began with the idea that, if taking spherical panoramic photos was easy, the results might be fun. Currently, the camera takes still photos. But we'd like to enable it to handle video, too. We're still just presenting this technology, so the specs haven't been decided yet. Right now, we're at the stage of seeing how people react. If people think this camera is fun, we'd like to commercialize it, and make it a bit smaller. We want to keep developing it, so we can offer a version for consumers."
"This is a project we're discussing with staff at art colleges. We think this technology could also be presented as a "panorama ball," where the pictures are stuck onto a sphere."