Q-CTRL digest

Leading from the front-end

July 25, 2018
Written by
Marcus Strom
Marcus Strom

At Q-CTRL we are obviously deadly serious about our science. We want to help you extract maximum performance from your quantum hardware. But scientific excellence and technical advantage are just the beginning.

But scientific excellence and technical advantage are just the beginning. We are just as committed to ensuring that your user experience with us is second-to-none. And that's why we are hiring the best in the business.

As our seed investment round has closed successfully with some of the most powerful VC backers globally, we are moving to expand the business.

On this blog we have heard plenty from our Quantum Control Engineers, like Dr Michael Hush, Claire Edmunds, Dr Harrison Ball and Virginia Frey, who are working on building back-end algorithms leveraging filter functions and developing novel control techniques to suppress noise and maximize the potential of your quantum devices.

But it's at the front-end where you will experience the fact that Black Opal is the most intuitive cloud-based platform allowing you to harness the world's most advanced quantum control.

Our Front-end team is led by Michael Dijkstra. He's worked with companies that are synonymous with a great user experience, like Dropbox, AIGA and Rough Trade. It's all about fusing functionality with great design.

New hires

In the past couple of weeks Q-CTRL has made two new hires to really expand our front-end capability as we prepare for the public launch of our first product.

Rob Harkness and Pius Jeon
Pius Jeon (left) and Rob Harness (right) are Q-TRL's newest additions to the Front-end Engineering Team.

This is Pius Jeon's first week with us as Senior Front-end Engineer. He joins us after six years at Streamtime, an end-to-end project management suite for the creative industries.

Pius describes himself as a full-stack engineer who loves to get things done.

"It will be my job to help develop the user-interface of the Q-CTRL app; it's what the customer sees. All the smarts that the scientists bring to Q-CTRL are in the back-end but it's through excellent design and smooth functionality that this can be accessed," he said.

Rob Harkness has been working for NASDAQ for close to a decade and makes the move from the big end of town to bring his knowledge to our quantum start-up.

"Most of what I am doing at the moment for Q-CTRL is data visualization. I am developing interactive, animated visuals that will allow our customers to visualize how our quantum control solutions manipulate a qubit," he said.

As an example, the effect of a control on a single qubit can be visualized using the Bloch sphere; a geometric representation of the state of a qubit and how it evolves under an applied control. As common as this framework is in the quantum community, with tons of solutions in Latex and Python, there aren't readily available web-based tools that allow a user to view or interact with a Bloch sphere. So Q-CTRL has had to build its own graphing package.

Q-CTRL - Bloch Spheres
Q-CTRL is building its own graphing package in order to visualize the effect of a control on a single qubit.

Bringing balance

Neither Rob nor Pius have previous experience with quantum technology.

Pius said: "I reckon it's probably an advantage. While most of our users will be scientists this won't always be the case. So in building the front-end it helps to have the viewpoint of someone who doesn't know too much about the deep technicalities."

Rob agrees. "I think being able to bridge the gap between the hard science and product is a real advantage. We are always thinking about the user experience."

"There is no point in something being functional if it's not nice to use. If things you want to do are hidden, it puts people off."

To get the user experience right, both Rob and Pius say there is a lot of back and forth between the Quantum Control Engineering team and the Front-end Engineering and Design teams. It's a creative tension that is working really well for the company.

"At Streamtime all our clients were creatives. So we really needed to give them a beautiful user-interface. That's what I'm bringing to the table here: our aim is give our clients a sense of delight through a really polished user-interface," Pius said.

Pius's team at Streamtime won some of the top awards in the industry: they picked up an AGDA Design Award in Australia and were nominees for the global Webby Awards for web services and applications.

For both, it's their first time working for a start-up in the early stages and they are relishing the opportunity, especially the hands-on and highly engaging environment.

"It's very academic in the best sense: many of the staff members are scientists and PhD students. I like that because there are a lot of very competent people who are highly intelligent and passionate about what they are working on," Rob said.

Pius's first impressions was of a team composed of serious experts building new links between the quantum and product teams. Even being in the midst of the technical interaction has been exciting to him, "It's great listening to the quantum scientists working on a problem, in terms beyond my experience…"

Even if they're still learning about quantum technology, Pius and Rob both know they have a lot to bring in contributing to the core product offering at Q-CTRL.

From thesis and antithesis comes synthesis...

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