HTC is a historical innovator. The firm was founded in 1997 by Cher Wang and began making smartphones on Windows mobile platforms, but it really came to prominence with the creation of the industry’s first Android handset in 2008.
Its hardware design, coupled with the Sense UI for Android, won it a legion of loyal fans and ensured HTC was catapulted into a leadership position in the smartphone market.
Since then, strong competition at the top end of the market from Samsung and the emergence of rivals in the mid-range market has seen its smartphone fortunes wane, despite a number of critically-acclaimed devices.
HTC and VR
But over the past few years, HTC has -re-invested itself as a pioneer of virtual reality (VR) technologies with the VIVE range of headsets.
And despite the absence of the rumoured HTC U-12 flagship smartphone, Chairwoman Wang was present at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona to explain how the smartphone and 5G was still a key component of the HTC VR strategy.
The original VIVE was launched at MWC three years ago and has since been joined by the standalone VIVE Focus headset and the VIVE Pro, the world’s “most powerful” VR device.
A long-standing ambition of Wang is to expand the use cases of VR beyond gaming, which has unsurprisingly been the first major application, into other areas of life, work and entertainment.
Her message to MWC was that the speed, capacity and low latency of 5G would power previously impossible applications by making use of remote processing power, not just in the cloud, but at the edge of the network.
“I believe VIVE is the great equalizer,” said Wang. “Today we are creating VIVE Reality: the convergence of VR/AR, 5G and AI.
“Our lives have become so dependent on the Internet and connectivity that we can barely imagine life without it. Speeds of tens of gigabits of seconds will be transformational. 5G is the perfect matching technology for VR and AI thanks to edge computing and real time transmission.”
“Cloud computing over 5G will enable every single VR and AR device to be the most powerful device in the world. 5G reduces the need for device-based computing power.”
5G, Wang argued, would bring the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) to everyone, resulting in more personalised technology and allowing us to access resources more quickly and finish tasks more rapidly.
“Recent advances to AI and ML take advantage of increased power of data and processing power,” she added. “Future devices may know us better than we know ourselves.
Wang was adamant that although the smartphone still had a vital role to play, even if she had an exciting prediction for the future.
“The smartphone will play an important part of the ecosystem and will be the first step to 5G for most of us,” he said. “In the future, the screen may be de-coupled from the device and projected to VR … or even to our eyes.
“Let’s work together as an industry and a society. We will definitely create a better world for us and future generations.”
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MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.