For LG's G3, virtual reality is just a bundle away

LG is offering a free alternative to rival Samsung's $310 Gear VR headset, giving new buyers of the G3 phone a virtual-reality headset based on Google Cardboard.

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The VR for G3 comes free as part of a new promotion from LG. LG

LG is teaming up with Google to try bringing virtual reality to the masses.

The South Korean electronics company said Monday that it'll soon kick off a new promotion that offers a virtual-reality headset -- the VR for G3 -- for free for new buyers of its G3 flagship smartphone. The headset, which is based on Google's Cardboard device, uses the G3 as the screen, allowing owners to use it for VR apps and games downloaded from the Google Play store.

"This is just the beginning of the virtual reality movement, which until recently was expensive and inaccessible to everyday consumers," Chris Yie, an LG marketing executive, said in a statement.

The new headset is a way for LG to answer its long-time South Korean rival, Samsung, with a similar but no-cost virtual-reality product. The VR for G3 follows the lead of Samsung's Gear VR , released in December, which uses the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as the display and can cost several hundred dollars ($310 on Amazon). Also, both Samsung and LG are looking for ways to build up smartphone sales, which have been slowing in mature markets, and could be using their VR headsets to do just that.

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Another look at the VR for G3. LG

The LG headset could be an early sign of how competition and cooperation will shape up in the world of mobile virtual reality -- Samsung aligning with Facebook's VR-goggle maker Oculus on the Gear VR, and LG working with Google.

Both headsets are just one part of a growing list of virtual-reality and augmented-reality products being created, as tech firms work to add new technologies into those previously unrealized markets. The intent of virtual reality is to provide an immersive experience for gaming or other applications, while augmented reality offers an overlay of the real world to provide extra information for the user.

Google has been a major player in AR and VR lately, last year unveiling the cheap, do-it-yourself virtual reality kit called Cardboard, which it has continued to develop with additional features and apps. Google's Glass wearable headset project has faced a a bumpier start, with government officials asking about privacy issues and Google eventually taking the product off the market, at least temporarily.

Microsoft became the latest giant tech firm to jump into augmented reality, announcing last month it's working on a headset called HoloLens.

The VR for G3 promotion will roll out this month in certain markets. Buyers of the LG G3 can also download a free VR game, "Robobliteration," using an in-box code.

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