It's an experimental, enormously complex, sometimes downright confusing technology that's typically the domain of hardcore academics and organizations like Google and NASA. But that might be changing.
Today, IBM unveiled an online service that lets anyone use the five-qubit quantum computer its researchers have erected at a research lab in Yorktown Heights, New York. You can access the machine over the Internet via a simple software interface—or at least it's simple if you understand the basics of quantum computing. This new service is hardly something the everyday consumer will use, but it's a big deal for the many researchers now working to build a practical quantum computer—a computer that moves beyond just 1s and 0s to become exponentially more powerful than today's machines. In that sense, IBM is indeed striving to bring quantum computing to the world at large.