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HTC Vive let me drive a car remotely over 5G

HTC Vive created its own portable 5G network at MWC to show off how the tech can power tomorrow's VR and XR experiences.
By
March 2, 2022
HTC 5G Reigns Radio Car Blue
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Okay, I didn’t remotely drive a real car. But it was still a tiny car — a Porsche, to boot! What’s important here is that the connection between the car and the system I was using to drive it was powered by 5G, rather than Wi-Fi or a direct, wired connection.

Building on some demonstrations it first previewed at CES earlier this year, HTC Vive used Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to showcase a new business unit: G Reigns, which it runs in cooperation with Supermicro.

See also: The best of Mobile World Congress 2022 Awards

The basic premise of G Reigns is to give companies the ability to set up private 5G networks in as little as 30 minutes. Using designs from HTC Vive and hardware from Supermicro, the two companies created a portable 5G base station, called the Reign Core, that can be carried about in a package the size of a suitcase. It works with standards such as Open RAN, which means it is compatible with most components needed to run private networks.

HTC 5G Reigns Cell site
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
The car is controlled over a private 5G network, which runs from a portable base station.

HTC Vive used the Reign Core and its private 5G network to power a handful of demonstrations at its booth, including the one I participated in. HTC Vive created some remote-controlled cars and outfitted them with cameras and 5G connections. I was able to view the footage from the camera through a monitor and use it to navigate a small race track remotely. This particular demo was simple fun, but others were a bit more involved.

For example, the company showcased its Step Into Safety program, which relies on a Vive Focus 3 headset, to help train certain types of workers (think construction) on how to safely move through a worksite in XR or VR. It also offered a peek at the new wrist tracker that, when paired with the Focus 3, provides XR programs with better location tracking to help with placement in simulated environments.

More reading: What are the best mobile VR headsets

HTC 5G Reigns track
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

None of this is earth-shattering stuff. HTC Vive has been working on its headsets and experiences for many years. The company has a bit of a head start on the metaverse, in some respects, which still has a long way to go in terms of development and commercialization. Still, the idea that these XR experiences can be powered by portable 5G networks is a neat one.

While we wish we could have driven a real Porsche through the streets of Barcelona via 5G, we can more easily imagine that the day isn’t so far off when we’ll be able to.