“The potential impact of Quantum technology is absolutely profound,” said Professor Neil Stansfield, Head of Excellence for Technology Innovation at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, at last week’s CW (Cambridge Wireless) Technology and Engineering Conference (CW TEC) 2016.
Opening the event at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Stansfield also underlined the UK’s world-leading expertise in Quantum research supported by a £300 million Government-funded programme and additional £50 million earmarked for new innovation projects.
Stansfield pointed to a number of potential practical applications of Quantum technology from detecting micro changes in gravity to identify variations in underground geology and GPS navigation systems without the need for satellites to ultra-high speed image processing and seeing around corners using Quantum lasers.
Calling for an ‘open innovation paradigm’ with government working with industry and academia, Stansfield added that, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”.
CW TEC brought together leaders in Quantum technology from within and outside the UK, to explore how this complex and exciting new field of science and engineering could change the face of computing and communications.
Colin P.Williams, Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at D-Wave Systems Inc, a leader in the development of the first quantum computers, claimed that Quantum technology was already outpacing Moore’s Law and presented the latest special-purpose Quantum computing machines already being used.
“The massive processing capabilities found in Quantum computers will challenge our current beliefs around complexity and security,” said Michael Brown, CTO at ISARA Corporation, posing the case for ‘Quantum safe cryptography’, which is resistant to quantum algorithm attack. Brown warned that, “we need to be making changes now to protect data in the future”.
“Knowing Quantum is useful for lots of things is not all that useful in itself,” said Richard Murray, Lead Technologist at Emerging Technologies and Industries, Innovate UK. “We need to work out where the real, profitable applications are,” he added and emphasised the importance of collaboration and the role of the growing UK Quantum technologies eco-system.
D-Wave’s Williams suggested that Quantum could help a variety of sectors from finance to healthcare, biosciences to computer sciences, and computer vision to AI and machine learning, while he also sees the Internet of Things playing a significant role alongside Quantum technology.
Dr Paul Martin, CTO at Plextek, indicated that it would be, “possible to have accessible Quantum products on the market within five years”, but noted that, “this is a very important moment for technologies and countries making their place in the market. It’s a race; to win global market share we need both the components and systems”.
Martin said that each Quantum application provides an opportunity for market disruption with orders of magnitude improvements in performance, reduction in size and reduction in power consumption.
“Experience tells us that the real impact of Quantum 2.0 will only emerge when new generations of engineers start to harness the technology to create products that we can't imagine today,” said Professor John Haine, CW Board member and chair of CW TEC.
“Now is the time for technology leaders to begin to understand its implications and engineers and scientists starting to understand the technologies they could be applying in five to ten years.”
Other speakers at the conference included, John Morton, Professor of Nanoelectronics & Nanophotonics, UCL; Dr Zhiliang Yuan, Team Leader, Toshiba Research Europe; Dr Trevor Cross, CTO, e2v and chair of the Innovate UK's Special Interest Group in Quantum Technologies; and Professor Patrick Gill, MBE FRS FInstP, Co-Director, NPL Quantum Metrology Institute, National Physical Laboratory.