A new breakthrough: Honeywell steps up its quantum computing play

Published: April 2, 2020 1:40:49 AM

The tech company plans to release the world’s most powerful quantum computer within the next three months.

Honeywell chairman and chief executive officer Darius AdamczykHoneywell chairman and chief executive officer Darius Adamczyk

By Srinath Srinivasan

Honeywell has announced that it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing that accelerates the capability of quantum computers and will enable the company to release the world’s most powerful quantum computer within the next three months.

The company said it has made strategic investments in two leading quantum computing software providers (Cambridge Quantum Computing and Zapata Computing) and will work together to develop quantum computing algorithms with JPMorgan Chase.

Honeywell chairman and chief executive officer Darius Adamczyk said companies should start now to determine their strategy to leverage or mitigate the many business changes that are likely to result from new quantum computing technology. “Quantum computing will enable us to tackle complex scientific and business challenges, driving step-change improvements in computational power, operating costs and speed,” Adamczyk added.

While there will be applications in material science, logistics, pharma and finance for this technology, the Indian market is not yet ready for this quantum leap. According to Chirag Dekate, senior director, analyst, AI Infrastructure, HPC, Emerging Compute Technologies, Gartner, currently US, Canada, China, and Netherlands are leading the pack from a quantum systems perspective. He says India lacks the fundamental activity in quantum computing. It is quite likely that the first order effect in Indian quantum strategy will be to acquire a quantum system. “Herein lies the problem, most of the quantum systems today are unlikely to deliver any meaningful business result. As a result, large scale quantum computing systems acquisition will likely yield very little research or business value/impact. Investing in indigenous systems might yield better outcomes, but this requires coordinated, and sustained policy,” he says.

Before hopping onto quantum computing, markets across the world, especially India, have to realise the full potential of AI and ML in classical computing terms. “In the near to medium term, AI and ML techniques are mainly going to be implemented, accelerated and deployed based on classical computing technologies. Quantum computing operates on fundamentally different semantics than classical computing,” says Dekate.

However, interest in quantum computing is brewing in India. Dekate says Gartner inquiry volumes around the topic of quantum computing have grown by 66% and Indian CIOs are a major part of the inquiries. “Financial services, manufacturing, oil and gas seem to be early vertical industries that are pioneering quantum initiatives. India will see its second major quantum computing conference in Mumbai this year,” he says. “Based on our engagements with the financial services we are discovering that many early pioneers are starting to invest in quantum competency initiatives designed to develop quantum skillsets and to identify top use cases that might be relevant to the company’s business context.”

Experts believe that companies looking to adopt a fast-follower mindset of waiting on the sidelines till the market develops will struggle to compete with ones that manage to successfully leverage the technology. Today, Honeywell has a cross-disciplinary team of more than 100 scientists, engineers, and software developers dedicated to advancing quantum volume and addressing real enterprise problems across industries. The other recent breakthrough in quantum computing was from Google last year.

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