Quantum computing has been off-limits outside of research labs for a long time but this has now changed as IBM just announced it is making its working prototype quantum computer available for anyone to use remotely via the Internet.
The research arm of the company said on Wednesday it is giving researchers, technology geeks, and virtually everyone access to its 5-qubit quantum computing processors, which currently sit at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York.
One of the project's aim is to unveil the mysteries surrounding quantum computers.
"It's a web-based platform for public to access to run quantum algorithm and quantum circuits on a real quantum processor in our labs," said IBM's experimental quantum computing group manager Jerry Chow. "We want people to program their own algorithms and learn what it means to do quantum computing."
Chow said that while anyone can apply to test the processor via the IBM Cloud Platform, the company will determine how much access people will have to the processor. This will depend on the individual's technology background and quantum technology knowledge.
With IBM's qubit processor being made available to the public, users can work with qubits, run simulations, and study tutorials, which could accelerate developments in the field.
"This moment represents the birth of quantum cloud computing," said IBM Research senior vice president and director Arvind Krishna.
"By giving hands-on access to IBM's experimental quantum systems, the IBM Quantum Experience will make it easier for researchers and the scientific community to accelerate innovations in the quantum field, and help discover new applications for this technology."
Quantum computing works on the principle of qubits, or quantum bits. Bits in regular computers can only represent information as ones or zeroes but qubits can be ones, zeroes, or both at the same time.
This principle, known as superposition principle, will theoretically allow future quantum computers to be far more powerful than currently available devices.
Quantum computing, however, is still in its infancy although it is believed to pave way for powerful computers in the future that can help speed up cancer research and even solve encrypted messages.
Big organizations such as NASA, Google and Microsoft are also interested on the technology with its potential uses in real-world situations.