Last Tuesday, Alphabet’s quantum technology branch, Sandbox AQ, announced its separation into an independent firm. Sandbox AQ, which aims to assist companies in embracing quantum computing in the long run, has also secured undisclosed “nine figures” in investment and recruited multiple clients for its cybersecurity services.
The company, which is based in Palo Alto, California, has already attracted a number of high-profile investors and clients and is working on enterprise software that incorporates quantum technology to a certain extent. It provides a set of APIs called Floq that allow developers to simulate quantum computing workloads using tensor processing units (TPUs). Sandbox AQ, which is helmed by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has completed an oversubscribed financing round with Breyer Capital, Schmidt, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures, and other investors.
Sandbox AQ’s AQ stands for AI and quantum, and the project intends to investigate the junction of quantum, physics, and AI to aid in sustainable energy, medicinal research, and cybersecurity. The company intends to develop enterprise software that employs quantum technology to “address important global concerns.” Earlier, the company was catering to sectors like telecommunications, financial services, health care, security, and other industries that demand elegant solutions. Vodafone Business, SoftBank Mobile, and the Mount Sinai Health System are among the clients that have already paid Sandbox for its computational efficiency.
Reuters reports that Sandbox AQ’s initial focus will be on providing software for post-quantum cryptography — a novel data encryption technology that is engineered to defy cyberattacks by quantum computers.
If hackers gain the cryptographic key used to encrypt the data, they can read it. While in theory, hackers can get a cryptographic key by having a computer guess it. However, in reality, acquiring a key via this method necessitates making so many guesses that even a supercomputer would be unable to complete the process.
It is speculated that future large-scale quantum computers might possibly be able to decipher encrypted data. As a result, researchers are working on new encryption methods that can survive quantum computer hacking efforts. These new technologies are part of a new sector called post-quantum cryptography, which Sandbox AQ is focusing on as part of its initial go-to-market program.
The 55-person company was founded in 2016 by Jack Hidary, who was formerly the director of AI and quantum at Sandbox and is a longstanding X Prize board member. Apart from Eric Schmidt, Sandbox has collected an impressive team of advisors, including Blythe Masters, a former JPMorgan Chase executive who was instrumental in the development of credit default swaps, and John Seely Brown, the former Xerox PARC chief scientist. The company’s current long-term objectives are in line with Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2021. According to Gartner, Quantum technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) are two of the main emerging technologies promoting innovation via trust, growth, and change.
Sandbox is also finalizing agreements to market quantum simulation software, which might help speed up medication and material research, according to Hidary. Using AI to evaluate data from quantum-based sensors to improve medical imaging and navigation by following magnetic fields instead of GPS satellites are two projects that might be commercialized in the next three years, he noted.
Hidary stated that improving ethnic, gender, and other diversity was also one of top priorities for the company, and therefore that one method to achieve that target was to hire people from the top institutions.
Hence, Sandbox AQ is collaborating closely with its academic partners at top institutions to support PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Graduate students from Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, Max Planck Institute, Caltech, UC Berkeley, Columbia, ASU, Yale, and other prestigious universities have also received training from the company.