LG Electronics' mobile division has announced it has joined forces with Google to dip its toes in the virtual reality waters with a Google Cardboard-inspired add-on for the LG G3 smartphone.

Interest in virtual reality has exploded in recent months, thanks largely to the success of the Oculus Rift headset. While the Oculus Rift is a dedicated virtual reality device using repurposed smartphone display panels, Samsung announced an alternative which uses the Galaxy Note 4 to drive the system and provide the display. For those on a budget, meanwhile, there's Google Cardboard, announced back in June at the Google I/O conference. Like the Gear VR, the Google Cardboard is designed for use with existing smartphone devices but uses low-cost cardboard as its construction material.

Now, LG has announced an accessory for its latest G3 smartphone which sits somewhere between the two. Based heavily on the Google Cardboard design, complete with neodynium ring on the side which interacts with the phone's magnetic gyroscope to allow the user to control the device without touching the screen, the VR for G3 headset is constructed from lightweight plastic rather than card. With no active electronics, though, cost remains low - to the point that LG has confirmed that it will be giving the pre-assembled device away with G3 handsets sold in 'select markets.'

'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,' claimed Chris Yie, vice president and head of marketing communications at LG's mobile arm. '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.'

'With Google Cardboard, we wanted to create more immersive and delightful experiences for anyone on their mobile devices,' added Andrew Nartker, Google Cardboard product manager. 'We are excited about VR for G3, and the rich ecosystem of developers and manufacturers who are innovating with Google Cardboard and making VR more easily accessible.'

Full details of the offer including which markets will be getting the device for free have yet to be released, with LG expected to provide more details later this month.
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