‘Dead or Alive:’ Canadian Quantum Computing Startup Targets the Media and Medical Imaging Industries

With Canada —  and especially Ontario — fielding some of the hottest startups in the QC world, one team in Toronto hopes to find solutions for rendering images

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Photo by Tarik Haiga on Unsplash

Dead or Alive

First and foremost, you’ve gotta love the name: Boxcat Inc, a play on the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935.

The scenario presents the subject, a cat, which is placed in a sealed box with a radioactive atom, an atom which in its essence could kill the poor animal. Without opening the box, the observer would be unable to know whether the cat is alive or dead — or in the more natural-sounding collocation, ‘dead or alive’. You would have to, by way of empirical observation, open the box to find out the cat’s state. Not knowing brings about the notion that in the sealed box the cat is both alive and dead at the same time. Or in the parlance of physics, ‘a superposition of states’.

George Berkely, the 17th-century Irish empiricist philosopher, had a similar thought experiment ‘if a tree falls in a forest…’

It’s all about the possibility of unperceived existence, or in quantum physics, the ‘objective existence of the wave function’.

It can be the most important thing in the world or not, but both ideas are amazing all the same.

So out of Schrödinger’s genius, we have Boxcat Inc, a Canadian quantum computing (QC) startup founded in 2017.

Changing the pace of creativity

— Boxcat Inc website

Boxcat Inc

The brains behind the startup are founders Bryce Hunter, along with Robert Stanica, young men who think they have a solution to today’s QC problems.

CTO Alves, a Brazilian whose qualifications include a master’s degree in computer science from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, as well as a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Toronto, is a self-proclaimed ‘Quantum Innovation Developer’ and serial entrepreneur, having founded and run a handful of startups over the last half a decade.

With Alves is Stanica, Boxcat’s Canadian CPO, a graduate from Seneca College, Toronto, in computer science.

Boxcat Inc claims it is:

 

‘The first company in the world to render an image using a quantum computer.’

These are strong words and ones I hope the startup can deliver on in this competitive industry.

The startup wants to focus ‘leveraging the power of quantum computing to render images and videos faster, cheaper, and more efficiently than current methods [while] targeting the media and medical imaging industries as potential customers for their solution.’

To achieve its goals, Boxcat Inc hopes to utilize the power of the following areas of technology:

  • Quantum Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing
  • Quantum Rendering
  • Computer Vision
  • 3D Rendering
  • Graphics Processing and
  • Quantum Image Processing

That’s a lot of tools in the shed. To do it, however, will take capital.

And lots of it.

According to data from Crunchbase, Boxcat Inc managed to raise a Venture round (Series Unknown) of an undisclosed amount of capital in 2017. Bloomberg Beta and S28 Capital are the most recent investors involved in the startup.

Being based in Toronto will do no harm for the startup to build its ideas and innovations, as Waterloo’s Quantum Valley is but an hour away. Ontario, more than any other region of the world apart from Silicon Valley, is doing more for QC than anywhere else.