[Courtesy of Q-CTRL]
Scientists and engineers involved in building quantum information systems are accustomed to inhabiting the dicey world of entanglement, superposition and qubits. But for quantum computing to succeed in everyday business settings, many people considerably less comfortable with “quantum weirdness” will need to come to grips with it. That could mean a business opportunity in providing training and “quantum readiness” for a wide variety of staff members at companies looking to make quantum computers part of their operations—and even for sales and support staff at the companies selling those quantum machines.
One player in this space is Q-CTRL, a specialist in firmware- and software-based control of quantum computing, sensing and other systems. On 4 October, the firm rolled out an enterprise-scale version of its Black Opal quantum learning platform—which, the company maintains, “makes it easy for anyone to learn quantum computing.” The company hopes the product will ease the road for potential customers looking at adopting the unfamiliar tool of quantum computing in their own businesses.
From individual to enterprise
Q-CTRL released the original version of Black Opal in November 2021, accompanied by a just-in-time-for-the-holidays campaign. The company followed that up with a “Pro” release on World Quantum Day in mid-April 2022. Those products, however, were largely targeted at individuals seeking to build quantum skill sets, and at supporting the quantum talent pipeline generally. (As part of that, shortly after the release of Black Opal Pro, the company also announced a collaboration with QURECA, a quantum recruitment and training operation founded by Araceli Venegas-Gomez, the recipient of the Optica Foundation’s Chang Pivoting Fellowship.)
The new Black Opal Enterprise, by contrast, appears intended for another market segment—larger companies that will need to train their quantum workforces at scale. To address that market, Q-CTRL has added a variety of functions apt to be familiar to purchasers of enterprise-scale software, including seat-based licensing, cobranding, analytics and tracking.
“Duolingo for quantum”?
A press release from Q-CTRL stresses the “intuitive, visual and interactive” nature of the Black Opal platform, which the company believes lowers the barrier for initial learning about quantum technology’s many twists and turns. Indeed, Q-CTRL’s founder and CEO, Michael J. Biercuk, has called it “Duolingo for quantum,” alluding to the popular, animation-rich online language-tutorial site.
Q-CTRL says its customers for the enterprise-scale edition of Black Opal already include the trapped-ion quantum-computer maker IonQ, and that it will soon announce deals with “Big Four consultancies, a Fortune 500 petrochemicals company, a military unit in Australia, and a government research center in the UK.” Ariel Braunstein, the senior vice president for product and marketing at IonQ, said in a Q-CTRL release that IonQ will use the Black Opal tool to “aid in internal educational initiatives to onboard new employees and support their growth.”