@paulgailey, thanks for joining in the conversation.
I think there's confusion among people that the RICOH R Development Kit is somehow a next generation of the THETA. It's not. My understanding from reading the available information is that this is not intended for consumer use. It's a Dev Kit for engineers or product designers that want to use live streaming in their products for things like surveillance.
I think people want to see the next generation of the THETA S. There's been no announcement about this yet. I'm sure that when the successor to the THETA is announced, it will be an upgrade in features.
What we have with the RICOH R Dev Kit seems like a stripped down version of the current THETA S with some tweaks.
Remember that back in December of 2015, an enthusiastic member of the community had hacked the THETA S to live stream equirectangular video in Full HD at 29.97 fps using the internal stitching technology of the camera. This is basically the same as the RICOH R Dev Kit. Unfortunately, this hacked camera was never released to the public. Now, it looks like a dev kit of this camera will be available.
This is a machine translation of the specs back in December of 2015 of the community hack.
Full Sphere Live Cam Experimental Machine Specifications:
- Real-time output of 2K full sphere moving image realized
- Full HD output from HDMI
- Equirectangular 1920 x 960 dots 1080 p 29.97 fps
- In the equirectangular format, horizontal: vertical is 2: 1, so in the full HD the lower 120 dots are black bands
- Simultaneous monaural audio output from monaural microphone on camera side
- Turns ON by the connection of the external AC adapter, and video output starts
- Video control in real time via USB (EV, RGB gain)
- Continuous operation for more than 24 hours
This is the original Japanese.
- HDMIよりFull HD出力
- Equirectangular 1920 x 960ドット 1080p 29.97fps
- Equirectangular形式は横:縦が2:1になるためFull HDにおいて下側120ドットは黒帯となる
- USB経由にてリアルタイムに映像コントロールが可能（EV, RGBゲイン）
This was the original hack back in Dec of 2015
I think it's a bit unfortunate that the public is confusing the technology dev kit that engineers can use to build things like VR prototypes or computer vision with the next generation camera.
It seems that the media also had a misunderstanding of the purpose of the DevKit, which is likely the source of the confusion. The release of the information at CES instead of an engineering conference may have also contributed to the confusion by the media.