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It seems that the potential of Google Cardboard – the virtual reality app released this past summer to little fanfare – is starting to be realized. Today, Google’s onetime Nexus 5 partner LG announced that customers who buy a new G3 smartphone will receive a brand new virtual reality headset called the VR for G3 that’s tailor made for the handset starting this month.

vr-for-g3Unlike Samsung’s Gear VR, VR for G3 is technically compatible with any Android handset, as long as it can fit comfortably within the headset’s phone cradle. The headset is based on the specifications laid out by Google for DIY Cardboard headsets, and it relies on apps built for the Cardboard app.

By contrast, Gear VR is only compatible with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 – though it seems pretty likely that the upcoming Galaxy S6 will also work with the $199 device. Either way, Gear VR runs software co-developed by Samsung and Oculus VR. While I can’t say for sure which VR experience is better, it’s conventional wisdom that Oculus is essentially the de facto leader of the burgeoning virtual reality industry.

LG’s vice president and head of marketing communications Chris Yie had this to say on the occasion of the announcement:

“While still in its infancy, this is just the beginning of the virtual reality movement which until recently was expensive and inaccessible to everyday consumers. By leveraging Google Cardboard, not only are regular consumers able to participate in the VR experience, we’ll be able to introduce this technology to future developers who may one day show us how VR can be used to improve our lives.”

As of now, it’s unclear whether or not VR for G3 will be available for separate purchase at some point in the near future, or, in fact, where or how a consumer will be able to take advantage of the offer. The press release says simply that the promotion will “roll out this month in select markets.” As a fan of Google Cardboard, I’m extremely interested in the headset’s potential, and I’m hopeful that there will be a way for me to buy it and actually use it with my Nexus 5.

Either way, LG’s new headset is likely only the first in custom-made virtual reality accessories that ought to start pouring out of OEMs this year.

[LG Newsroom]

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