Shell Oculus Rift V-Power demo shows why Facebook was so keen to buy VR company
Shell is one of a handful of companies to publicly display Oculus Rift content that has no connection to its gaming abilities. And it's the first time we've seen the headset itself adorned in branded colours.
The Shell V-Power Oculus Rift experience is reminiscent of movies such as Fantastic Voyage or Innerspace. It shrinks you to about the size of a single drop of petrol and places you in a tiny craft. However, instead of racing you through the blood veins of a human being, you get a 3D virtual reality ride through an engine, halting along the way in the most important parts, while former F1 commentator Murray Walker describes what's happening.
Pocket-lint was one of the first in the world to try out the experience originally, when we visited Shell's marketing company a couple of months ago, but the final version was ready for public consumption in the company's hospitality suite at the Eau Rouge corner of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps during the Belgian Grand Prix.
The modified headsets, which were scattered around different locations over the weekend, are at heart the first generation development kit so don't quite afford the same high specifications as the DK2 which was released recently. That means the screen is slightly under-spec'ed to what is currently available (1280 x 720 in favour of 1920 x 1080) and yes, that means you see the pixels quite distinctly. However, the action at times moves so quickly you really don't notice after a short while.
The ride is on rails. There's no interaction bar the fact that you can look all around you as you travel, but as an exercise in education, the V-Power demo works. We certainly found out more about the inner workings of a modern motor engine.
The journey starts in the oil tank, takes you through the fuel pump and spits you out of the tail pipe, taking in several elements along the way, including the fuel injector and combustion chamber (which is by far the most exciting bit) and only takes a few minutes.
It's all clearly explained and you find out exactly what the detergent agents in Shell's V-Power fuel and why its friction technologies are so important to the smooth running of the pistons. And because of the nature of the journey, the whole thing feels like a rollercoaster ride, so has an element of fun to it too.
It is this last factor that makes us believe that Oculus Rift could be cleverly used as a marketing tool, such as in Shell's case, or in education. The element of fun makes learning and explanation much easier to digest. Perhaps that was what drove Facebook to acquire Oculus more even than the gear's obvious gaming talents?
Our one word of warning though is that it might not be for everyone. One or two of the motoring journalists we spoke to came away feeling queasy. But then, they have never tried Oculus Rift before and admitted that they whipped their heads around in fascination as the experience progressed.
We didn't have any such problems and thoroughly advise you to give it a go if Shell brings its system to an event near you.