LG is signalling that it, too, is interested in virtual reality, following the example of Samsung’s Gear VR. LG isn’t quite as interested, though – its initial VR project is more of a flirtation than a commitment, using Google Cardboard’s cheap-and-easy approach, instead of seeking out an embedded partner like Oculus. LG’s strategy has a benefit for consumers: New G3 purchasers in select markets will receive the new ‘VR for G3’ headset for free with their smartphone.
The VR for G3 works with Google’s existing Cardboard software, as well as any third-party apps made for that barebones phone-holding headset, and also comes with a VR game called Robobliteration available via QR code with new G3 smartphones as a promotional offer. The plastic LG headset operates in much the same way, and contains no processors or screens of its own – offering instead lenses that work with the G3’s quad HD display, as well as a ring magnet controller like the cardboard Cardboard from Google.
Its design also has a cut out for the G3’s camera and rear-mounted sleep/wake/power switch, providing full access to that. It’s assembly-free, besides when you insert the phone, which is another upside to Cardboard kits. LG isn’t yet saying whether you’ll be able to get one separate from this promotion, however, so there might be some opportunity for folks to sell these on the secondary market to interested G3 owners.
Google’s Cardboard Product Manager wholly endorses LG coming on board with the platform, and it makes sense that the company would welcome support from other key ecosystem hardware partners. Cardboard is almost antithetical to the Oculus approach to VR, favoring bite-sized content experiences and low cost of entry over years of careful optimization and research, and expensive hardware plus accessories. I’ve argued before that these two extremes together will pave the way forward for VR, with middle-ground experiences weeding falling by the wayside as cost pressure and a desire for optimal quality destroy any compromised offerings between Cardboard and Oculus.
LG’s move here seems to suggest that they see the value in joining Google’s camp on the low-end, at least for now.