HD quantum encryption gets a step closer to everyday use with world’s first urban trial

Researchers have sent a message secured with high-dimension quantum encryption through the air above a city for the first time in history, bringing practical use of the technology a step closer.

Using photons to encode information, quantum encryption is increasingly being explored as an ultra-secure method of sending information. However, previous real-world tests have only been focused around 2D encryption, where a single photon only encodes one bit: a single one or zero. As a single letter needs eight bits, this severely limits the amount of information that can be sent.

High-dimension quantum encryption, however, allows numerous bits to be stored in each photon, allowing greater quantities of data to be sent, and making it a far more practical option for real-world use.

But as the real world contains considerable ‘noise’ from turbulent air, failed electronics and even attempts by third parties to intercept the data, it is important to demonstrate HD quantum encryption works in an urban setting.

“Our work is the first to send messages in a secure manner using high-dimensional quantum encryption in realistic city conditions, including turbulence,” said research team lead, Ebrahim Karimi, from the University of Ottawa, Canada.

“The secure, free-space communication scheme we demonstrated could potentially link Earth with satellites, securely connect places where it is too expensive to install fiber, or be used for encrypted communication with a moving object, such as an airplane.”

The research, which is published today in the journal Optica, involved sending HD quantum-encrypted data over the city of Ottowa, Canada, over a distance of 0.3km.

The data, which was sent between two buildings at the university, was secured using 4D quantum encryption. This is named as such because each photon encodes two bits of information instead of one, resulting in four distinct possibilities: 01, 10, 00 or 11.

4D quantum encryption is important not only for its ability to send more data on the same number of photons, but because it is also more resistant to noise, making it more practical for real-world conditions.

“This higher noise threshold means that when 2D quantum encryption fails, you can try to implement 4D because it, in principle, is more secure and more noise resistant,” said Karimi.

The messages, which were sent between to rooftops, demonstrated an error rate of 11%, which is considered a key success as it is comfortably below the widely recognised threshold of 19% that is needed to keep a secure connection.

The researchers also found that 4D encryption enabled 1.6 times more information to be sent per photon than 2D encryption.

Image courtesy of SQO team, University of Ottawa

While the research is promising, there is undoubtedly still a long way to go before quantum encryption can be used for commercial applications.

Next the researchers plan to implement their 4D encryption into a network of three links, located 5.6km apart. In the long term, this will be linked into an established network within the city, to further test the use of the technology,

“Our long-term goal is to implement a quantum communication network with multiple links but using more than four dimensions while trying to get around the turbulence,” explained Alicia Sit, an undergraduate student in Karimi’s lab.

Steve “Woz” Wozniak to advise hologram emoji company that he calls “groundbreaking”

Apple’s co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak has found himself a new gig; Woz has joined the hologram emoji company, Mojiit, as an adviser.

In his role as advisor to Mojiit, the legendary entrepreneur and engineer will help assemble a world-class engineering team in addition to bringing investors and partnerships to the newly launched startup. Wozniak will also serve as mentor to Mojiit founder, Jeremy Greene.

“I’m thrilled to join Mojiit as an advisor,” said Wozniak. “Jeremy is a natural leader, the company is groundbreaking, it’s going to change the ecommerce space, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Created in 2017, Mojiit is the latest startup technology venture from Greene. The company’s tech essentially enables users to project and share 3D hologram emojis via smartphones.

The platform turns users into emojis by scanning their face, which can then be sent to loved ones and friends. Once a Mojiit message is received, it will map the area where it is received and place the Mojiit hologram there in real time, so it works in a similar way to Pokemon Go.

“Steve is one of the best and brilliant engineers in the entire world. But outside of that, he’s a wonderful man,” said Greene. “There isn’t anyone I’d want to be in business with more than this guy. He’s a legend. Who better to learn from than the guy who created the computer?”

Image courtesy of Nichollas Harrison. Featured image courtesy of Mojiit

In addition to consumer use, businesses of all kinds can tap into hologram emojis with Mojiit’s technology.

Mojiit investors already  include NFL alum Ed Reed, and the company was able to raise a total of $1 million in its seed round of funding.

Alongside the appointment of Woz, Entourage and Ballers producer Rob Weiss recently joined the company as a creative director.

“It’s exciting to expand beyond television and film to digital platforms,” said Weiss. “Hologram technology brings incredible opportunity to entertainment and media. I’m thrilled to be leading creative at Mojiit.”