By Nick Koutras
VTEC (Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control) is a system developed by Honda to improve the volumetric efficiency of a four-stroke internal combustion engine, resulting in higher performance at high RPM, and lower fuel consumption at low RPM. The VTEC system uses two (or occasionally three) camshaft profiles and hydraulically selects between profiles. It was invented by Honda engineer Ikuo Kajitani. It is distinctly different from standard VVT (variable valve timing) systems which change only the valve timings and do not change the camshaft profile or valve lift in any way.
VTEC, the original Honda variable valve control system, originated from REV (Revolution-Modulated Valve Control) introduced on the CBR400 in 1983 known as HYPER VTEC. In the regular four-stroke automobile engine, the intake and exhaust valves are actuated by lobes on a camshaft. The shape of the lobes determines the timing, lift and duration of each valve. Timing refers to an angle measurement of when a valve is opened or closed with respect to the piston position (BTDC or ATDC). Lift refers to how much the valve is opened. Duration refers to how long the valve is kept open. Due to the behavior of the working fluid (air and fuel mixture) before and after combustion, which have physical limitations on their flow, as well as their interaction with the ignition spark, the optimal valve timing, lift and duration settings under low RPM engine operations are very different from those under high RPM. Optimal low RPM valve timing lift and duration settings would result in insufficient filling of the cylinder with fuel and air at high RPM, thus greatly limiting engine power output. Conversely, optimal high RPM valve timing lift and duration settings would result in very rough low RPM operation and difficult idling. The ideal engine would have fully variable valve timing, lift and duration, in which the valves would always open at exactly the right point, lift high enough and stay open just the right amount of time for the engine speed and load in use.
There is also a link to a YouTube video for you to understand better how the V-TEC works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R0LvgywiWk&t=425s
Sources: YouTube and Wikipedia