Quantum Computing, Communication, and Sensing

The Potentials and Commercial Applications in the NISQ era

Andi Sama CIO, Sinergi Wahana Gemilang

- The potentials and commercial applications in the NISQ era for Quantum computing, Quantum communication, and Quantum sensing.
- Quantum computing applications for optimization, machine learning, and chemistry. Quantum communication applications with classical (e.g., PQC) or Quantum approach (e.g., QKD). Quantum sensing applications for medical devices, aerospace, and defense industries.

”Finding appropriate algorithms and problems is really challenging for Quantum Computers now,“ said Rupak Biswas, Ph.D., Director of NASA Exploration Technology, who mentioned this during one of the keynote speeches.

On Monday, at 10:00 AM (EST time zone) on April 12, 2021, Quantum.Tech (Alpha Events, 2021) started an internationally accessible virtual event discussing the exciting potential commercial applications of Quantum computing, Quantum communication, and Quantum sensing. The no-chargeable event is sponsored by big players in the industry such as IBM, AWS, Honeywell, and D-Wave, including Xanadu, Zapata Computing, CQC, Rigetti, and QCWare.

The event brought together industry, research institutions, government agencies, and investors toward commercializing Quantum technologies across the industry. 1800+ attendees from 20+ countries came virtually for the three-day event, with 50+ speakers of leading industry experts and 30 sponsors and exhibitors.

We briefly discuss here some of the keynotes, presentations, and panel discussions.

Quantum Computing

A panel discussion moderated by Jennifer Houston of D-Wave discussed a Hybrid approach to the algorithm for protein design with the CEO of MentenAI, Hans Melo. Designing the algorithm to exploit quantum computing capabilities involve trying to map a problem (maybe done classically before, like searching for a few possible molecule structures for anti-virus to prevent Covid-19 from entering the human body) to a Quantum computer, also benchmarking the results with the ones done with a Classical computer.

A hybrid approach is the combination of Quantum-Classical computation, which is started to be possible now in the NISQ ( (Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum)-era (rather than waiting for FTQC later in the far future, the Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computer), to target to solve a problem.

Within the context between NISQ and FTQC-era, the panelists agree that near-term Quantum computing applications will be mostly towards solving the Optimization problems, followed by Quantum Machine Learning and Quantum Chemistry.


IBM has an end-to-end Quantum technology accessible through the IBM Qiskit quantum framework (open source) since May 2016. IBM Quantum hardware is based on Superconducting technology and accessible from IBM Quantum Experience on the cloud or purchased separately as IBM Q System One. Scalable “multiple quantum chips” targeted millions of qubits will be based on Condor quantum chip (1,121 qubits) targeted for release in 2023.

In 2021, Qiskit also started to support IonQ hardware. There is also support for Qiskit Machine Learning for Artificial Intelligence, Qiskit Nature for Quantum Chemistry.

IBM’s quantum hardware roadmap towards millions of qubits (IBM, 2021).


Amazon Web Services, which just started to offer Quantum services in 2020, does not have the real Quantum hardware at the moment but is partnering with several Quantum hardware providers: IonQ, D-Wave, and Rigetti. Access to users is provided with AWS Braket through AWS cloud. Pennylane (Andi Sama, 2020a), the quantum machine learning framework from Xanadu, is also supported on AWS Braket.

The Quantum hardware: D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti that are supported in Amazon Braket.


Rigetti considers itself a full-stack quantum computing with a core focus on quantum hardware based on the qubit's superconducting qubit.

Rigetti started to provide the quantum infrastructure for Machine Learning developers in 2019 through partnerships with AWS & Oak Ridge National Lab, accessible through the cloud.

Rigetti, a path to practical FTQC (Rigetti, 2021)


Honeywell System models H0 and H1 are available now. Implementing Ion Trap technology for real-world applications in Logistics, Electronics, Automotive, Pharmaceuticals, and universities & strategic partners. The next scalable model will be based on System model H5.


Xanadu’s Quantum computer hardware design is based on Photonics running at room temperature (most other approaches, such as superconducting qubit, need a significantly low temperature closed to 0 Kelvin). Targeting to double the number of qubits every 6 months (now: 40 qubits).

Also, Xanadu has Pennylane quantum machine learning framework and Strawberry Fields for the more generic quantum computing framework.

Xanadu’s Full-stack quantum technologies.


Alpine Quantum Technologies (AQT) was founded in 2018 as a startup, started at University. AQT designs a quantum computer based on Trapped Ion technology for building qubit. AQT Quantum computer Systems are available for cloud access as well as for on-premise installation.

Quantum Sensing

Cerca presented their latest research for medical devices, the 50-channels Optically Pump Magnetometer (OPM), to sense signals from our body, such as understanding the human brain's activity in responding to certain activities. OPM can tolerate certain movements while scanning, like when being applied to children.

The existing approach using Cryogenic MEG has a limitation in which the person should stay still while scanning. Even a few millimeters move would generate unreadable results, and this is tough to apply to children.

50 sensors to detect the brain's activity, non-intrusively from outside (Cerca and The University of Nottingham, 2021), 1 of 2.
50 sensors to detect the brain’s activity, non-intrusively from outside (Cerca and The University of Nottingham, 2021), 2 of 2.

Teledyne e2v shared the applications of Quantum sensing in the Aerospace and Defense Industries. The Quantum Gravity Gradient sensors can map the area up to 10 meters down the surface based on the density variance of materials underneath.

Quantum gravity — detecting tunnels, mineshafts, and bunkers (Teledyne e2v, 2021), 1 of 2.
Quantum gravity — detecting tunnels, mineshafts, and bunkers (Teledyne e2v, 2021), 2 of 2.

Quantum Communication

Isara, ID Quantique, and Quantropi discussed the upcoming challenges in “Understanding the current state of the art in securing your networks from Quantum threats.” The classical approach would be through Quantum-Safe solutions. In contrast, the Quantum approach would be based on the implementation of QKD (Quantum Key Distribution) and Quantum randomness (Quantum Random Number Generator, RNG).

Systems at risk with quantum computers' advancements as early as 2025+ (Isara, 2021).
Isara’s licensed integration for various use-cases for Quantum-Safe Cryptography (Isara, 2021).

Quantum-Safe Cryptography is the term for enhancing cryptography-based applications, classically, to be quantum-proof in anticipating the upcoming Quantum hardware that will introduce risk for existing cryptography-based systems. This is the Post Quantum Cryptography(PQC)-era.

The near-term Quantum hardware will be capable of running Shor’s algorithm to attack the PKI — Public Key Infrastructure-based cryptography. The base algorithm is used by many Enterprise services today, including securing communication over the Internet.

The Q-day, the day the Quantum computer can make the Quantum attack (ID Quantique, 2021).
Quantum Resistance Algorithms (ID Quantique, 2021).

The Quantum approach for randomness (Quantum RNG chip) developed by ID Quantique has been actually implemented in Samsung Galaxy A Quantum. The recent version has just been launched in April 2021 for the South Korean market. Samsung launched the initial version in 2020.

Classical approach (Diffie–Hellman, PQC) vs. Quantum approach (QKD) for doing key exchange — (ID Quantique, 2021).

As for Quantropi, it has developed a QKD platform called QiSpace. This RNG-based platform provides a secure platform for providing a key exchange mechanism.

Considerations and Challenges Ahead

In his opening keynote speech, Dr. Carl Williams of NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) illustrated the estimated time span for applying certain Quantum technologies based on the degree of difficulty/complexity. We see that QKD, Quantum Measurement, and Quantum Sensors are the ones that are visible within the near term (10 years), while we expect Quantum Computation and Quantum Networks in the next 15+ years.

The estimated time span for applying certain Quantum technologies, based on the degree of difficulty/complexity (source: NIST, 2021).

With many contributions towards the commercialization of quantum technologies, the future of NISQ is exciting. Many areas and applications in various industries have been discussed from different International perspectives and investments, including the current status of Quantum computing, evaluation of different architectures, machine learning, optimization & simulation, sensing & metrology applications, communications & cryptography across QKD (Quantum Key Distribution for ultra-secure communication networks), PQC, and RNG (Random Number Generator).

For Quantum sensing, challenges include innovating to build smaller and smaller sensors. From the large size of a few meters to about 10 cm, to a few cm, and all the way to just a few mm and smaller.

Adoption challenges for an organization, in general, include preparing a Quantum-ready organization — including identifying a key champion (like somebody in the organization that is a “forward thinker” to go together in the journey), supporting talents (experts for a specific use-case), as well as use cases complex enough (usually “but not always” the optimization problems) for Quantum technologies to try to solve.

Dr. Bob Sutor, Chief Quantum Exponent at IBM, stated while being a moderator in a panel discussion, “Internally in IBM, we have a 2-hours program on Quantum Conversation for Business” to enable people to have a better understanding of what’s going on in the company.

Ivan Ostojic from McKinsey stated that “for the organization looking to explore Quantum technologies for business, it may not be an easy justification to get the investment commitment like promising certain percentage direct business contribution to the bottom line P&L.” Most panelists in different panel discussions have a similar view. Ivan continued, “It may be good doing the exploration of the technologies now, or it should also be ok also to just wait a few years when the technologies are more matures later.”

As many areas are still in active research with very dynamic developments, having partnerships with various stakeholders within a larger ecosystem is necessary. End-users with use-cases to solve, the universities & industries that provide the technologies (research, algorithms, hardware, software), various communities, and government.

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#AWS #AQT #Cerca #CQC #DWave #FTQC #Honeywell #IBM #IDQuantique #IonQ #McKinsey #MentenAI #NISQ #NIST #QCWare #Quantropi #Rigetti #Samsung #Teledyne-e2v #Xanadu #ZapataComputing