Quantum Computing and the IoT

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With the continuous development of technology and the desire to be connected to people and objects alike for more efficient, faster and easier way of doing stuff, Internet of Things (IoT) or the network of “smart” devices that collects and shares data to each other (and to humans as well), grew exponentially. Business Insider Intelligence forecasted that “by 2023, consumers, companies and governments will install 40 billion IoT devices globally.”

This huge number of devices also means massive amount of data generated every single day. The challenge will then be on how all this data will be analyzed and what knowledge can be derived. Security will also be a concern given that the devices are connected via the internet and cyberattacks have becme more and more sophisticated as technology evolves.

Handling large amount of data, performing computations much faster than traditional computing platforms, and solving problems in relation to cybersecurity are just some of the things a powerful quantum computer can do. Quantum computing uses quantum bits or qubits in performing computations. Qubits are akin to binary bits used in traditional computing but instead of only two possible states (i.e. 1 and 0), qubits can have several states at the same time. For example, two qubits can be in four states simultaneously, three qubits in eight states and so on exponentially. Thanks to the quantum–mechanical phenomena of superposition and entanglement, quantum computers can perform computations millions of times faster than the traditional ones.

Combining Quantum Computing and IoT

With its capabilities, quantum computing can help address the challenges and issues that hamper the growth of IoT. Some of these capabilities are:

  • Optimized complex computation power

As explained by Scott Amyx, an IBM IoT Futurist, a speaker and an author, a quantum computer can achieve an exponential increase in speed and power by using quantum states to represent bits simultaneously. This is because “at the quantum level, atoms could be programmed to represent all possible input combinations, all at once and therefore test all the combinations simultaneously,” he added.

IoT benefits from this since IoT devices generates massive amount of data that requires heavy computation and other complex optimization.

  • Faster validation and verification process

Applications of IoT can be found in a smart city in which several systems such as traffic, utilities, buildings, lights, among others are present. Validating and verifying that all the systems work together smoothly would be a long and tedious process. Quantum computing addresses that concern as it can speed up the verification and validation process across all the systems several times faster while ensuring constant optimization of the systems.

  • More secure communications

Since IoT devices may contain sensitive information in which handling must comply with the rights and needs of users, they should be secured. Confidentiality, integrity and authentication must be guaranteed. However, security is threatened as “traditional security countermeasures and privacy enforcement cannot be directly applied to IoT technologies due to their limited computing power; moreover the high number of interconnected devices arises scalability issues” as stressed in the study made by S. Sicari et. al.

Using principles of quantum mechanics, a more secured communication is possible through quantum cryptography which uses algorithms that require more computing power than traditional computers. The complexity serves as defense against cyberattacks.

Quantum Computing at Present

Quantum computing is still in its development stage with tech giants such as IBM, Google and Microsoft putting in resources to build powerful quantum computers. While they were able to build machines containing more and more qubits, the challenge is to get these qubits to operate smoothly and with less error. But with the technology being very promising, continuous research and development is expected until such time that it reaches widespread practical applications.

Sources

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Rose Ann Tegio

Written by

Rose Ann Tegio

Rose Ann earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics with specialization in Materials Science. She graduated with Latin Honors from the De La Salle University, one of the top universities in the Philippines.

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