Academy Xi Blog

What is quantum computing, how do quantum computers work?

By Academy Xi

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Quantum Theory explains the nature and behaviour of matter and energy on the microscopic atomic and subatomic levels. Combine this with computers and what do you get? Read on to learn about the world of quantum computing.

We have founding fathers Neils Bohr and Max Planck to thank for Quantum Theory, who were Nobel Prize winners in physics for their tireless efforts. Using their findings and theory, computer systems are being drastically improved to perform complex tasks far beyond what is already possible.

Many big players are committing significant resources to the development of quantum computers. IBM built the first circuit-based commercial quantum computer back in 2019, with Google claiming their own quantum creation was operating beyond supercomputer parameters around the same time. The race is on.

What is Quantum computing?

what is quantum computing

Essentially, quantum computing is a topic in IT study which is looking at the development of technology focused on the principles of Quantum Theory.

Quantum Theory:

A theory of matter and energy based on the concept of quanta, especially quantum mechanics.

And what does the ‘concept of quanta’ mean exactly? Let’s pop back to the 1900’s for a brief moment. Planck made the assumption that energy existed in individual units, as matter does, not just as a constant electromagnetic wave, so it was therefore quantifiable. He called these units quanta

Using the laws and principles of quantum theory, quantum computers can be used to solve complex problems that are too detailed for a regular computer to handle and they can do it at a serious pace.

How does a quantum computer work?

Traditional computers that we use day-to-day operate using known, definite measures. The operations are generally binary, which means they are based on two states – these could be on or off, up or down. Each binary unit, 1’s and 0’s, are known as a ‘bit’. 

When it comes to quantum computing, instead of operations using a ‘bit’ they use the quantum state of objects to create a ‘qubit’. Unlike a bit, a qubit is based on unknown measures that are undefined. 

Calculations are performed based on the probability of an object’s state. These calculations occur before the object is measured. The complex maths behind unknown and undefined measures is plugged into algorithms which rapidly generate solutions.

Uses and benefits of quantum computing

The major draw cards for quantum computers is the speed at which they can operate and the complexity of the problems they are able to solve. When we say speed, we’re talking calculations that can be conducted in a few seconds that would potentially take a traditional computer decades to solve, or longer. 

Any industry that is faced with complex problems can take advantage of this technology. Some companies already using quantum computing include:

  • IBM – machine learning and artificial intelligence 
  • Rigetti Computing – weather prediction
  • ProteinQure – drug research and discovery 
  • Volkswagen AG – automotive 
  • IonQ – sustainable energy

Potential downsides to quantum computers

Nothing is perfect. Quantum computers, while super speedy and able to work on complex problems, are still in the prototype stage for the most part and are expensive. Error rates are still reportedly high and research and development continues. The threat of cyber security breaches is all too real, as with any computer network, so solutions on this front are also being tried and tested.

Types of quantum computers

types of quantum computers

At this point in time, there are three types of quantum computers:

  • Quantum Annealer

This is easier to build of the three, but unfortunately also the weakest. Traditional computers can outperform the Annealer for everyday tasks (emails and gaming, for example), but the Annealer shines when it comes to its prowess with crazy large numbers, enabling it to break encryption and solve challenging optimisation issues.

  • Analog Quantum computer

This variety is where mainstream computer companies are heading when it comes to developing quantum computers for the consumer market. The analog quantum computer, without question, outperforms traditional computers on speed and will become the first quantum computer to drastically outperform our current models.

  • Universal Quantum computer 

The most powerful of the three types, the universal is also the most complex to create. Large scale quantities of energy are needed to operate them, as is cryogenic cooling to ensure that the optimal temperature is maintained to run effectively. 

How to get into tech and data

Before you can work with quantum computing, you first need to break into the world of tech and data. Learning while you train with practical, hands-on courses is the fastest way to get into these industries. Whether you’re looking to upskill to amplify your existing abilities, or seeking a new career path completely, building a solid foundation is paramount. 

Academy Xi offers both Software Engineering and Data Analytics courses, which will equip you with the essential skills and a stand-out portfolio.

If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor today and take the first steps in your tech and data journey.

Not sure which course is right for you? Chat to a course advisor and we’ll help you find the perfect match. 

What is an NFT, how to create nft

Academy Xi Blog

What is an NFT? (Non fungible tokens) and how do you create NFT?

By Academy Xi

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What is an NFT, how to create nft

Everybody seems to be talking about NFTs at the moment, but what exactly is an NFT? This article will give a simple explanation of NFTs, explore how to make money out of them and even give a step-by-step guide to making an NFT of your own.

Non-fungible tokens, referred to as NFTs, are digital collector’s items, where the customer receives a digital file instead of a physical object, such as a painting. The owner of the purchase has sole ownership rights of that digital item, with only one owner being permitted at any given time.

Each NFT is unique, or part of a very limited run, which like physical artworks can create a sense of scarcity about the item, making it more desirable. This perception can then increase the value of the digital artwork.

NFTs are built with the same form of programming as cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, but unlike cryptocurrencies, NFTs are non-fungible. What in the fungible does that mean?

Fungible items

An economic term, fungible items are interchangeable and can be swapped or replaced. If someone gave you $50 dollars as a single note, it could be exchanged for ten five-dollar notes. An example of a fungible item is cryptocurrency.

Non-fungible items

NFTs are classified as non-fungible items because they can be identified from one another, each being individually definable. Unlike fungible items, they aren’t interchangeable due to their unique qualities.

How did NFTs start?

The first known NFT was created in 2014 when Anil Dash, a consultant for media companies and auction houses, teamed up with artist Kevin McCoy at an event in New York which connects artists and tech professionals. Together, they created a way to generate a blockchain-supported approach to granting ownership to an original digital work. They referred to the approach as ‘monetized graphics’ and gave a live demonstration of how it worked, with Dash purchasing a video clip, Quantum, made by McCoy, for $4USD. A version of it went on to be sold in 2021 for $1.4million USD.

Fast forward to 2022, the concept of purchasing and selling digital artwork has exploded. According to research from Chainalysis, around $37 billion USD from January to May alone has been sent to NFT marketplaces.

What is an example of (NFT) non-fungible token?

What is an NFT - nft artwork australia

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An example of a popular NFT that has been sold is ‘Stay Free’, which was created by Edward Snowden, who you may remember as the American former computer intelligence consultant turned National Security Agency whistle-blower. The digital artwork is a portrait of Snowden created with the court documents linked to the ruling of the NSA’s illegal surveillance. The token sold for a cool $5.4million USD and the sale proceeds went to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

What is the most expensive NFT?

most expensive NFT Australia

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To date, NFT The Merge, created by digital artist, Pak, was sold for a mind-boggling $91.8million USD, a reported record for a publicly sold artwork by a living artist.

most expensive NFT - How to create NFT

Image credit from

Prior to this sale, the highest amount paid for an NFT was $69.3million USD via an online auction through Christie’s for ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ by artist Beeple (Mike Winkleman). The artwork is made up of images from every single day from May 1, 2007 to January 7, 2021. Vignesh Sundaresan, a cryptocurrency investor, purchased the NFT and the record sale created worldwide coverage of the trend.

How to create NFT

There are essentially six steps to creating NFTs:

#1.   Determine your asset

What original artwork do you want to turn into an NFT? It could be anything from a painting or illustration to an album, photograph, social media post, GIF, meme or video game. Be mindful that you must be the creator of the original item or be in possession of the legal intellectual copyright before turning it into an NFT.

#2.   Select your blockchain

Choosing the blockchain technology is next. Many creators of NFTs use Ethereum, with other options including Binance Smart Chain, Cosmos, Tezos and Polkadot.

#3.   Create your digital wallet

Cryptocurrency is needed to fund your NFT, so if you don’t already have a digital wallet sorted, now is the time to set it up. Having one is necessary to access your digital assets, with the top three NFT wallets being: Metamask, Math Wallet and Alpha Wallet. If you don’t already have cryptocurrency, you’ll need to buy some. Ether is recommended.

#4.   Choose your marketplace

Once you’ve completed the previous steps, it’s time to select the NFT marketplace to begin creating your token. There are several options to choose from, some of the most popular including: OpenSea, Nifty Gateway, SuperRare and Rarible. Choose your marketplace and link it to your digital wallet.

#5.   Time to upload

Each NFT marketplace will walk you through the file upload process. Once your file is uploaded, you’ll be able to convert it into an NFT.

#6.   Configure the sale process

You will be given options as to how you want to sell your token. Marketplaces will provide different options, with some of these including:

  • Timed auctions: setting a time limit for bids to be submitted
  • Unlimited auctions: no time limit, you choose when to end the auction
  • Fixed sale price: sold to the first person who wants to buy at the listed price

A minimum price will be needed for auctions and it’s wise to set the minimum to at least cover all your overheads (artwork creation and materials, your time and the various associated marketplace fees) so you aren’t losing money.

Is NFT backed by any laws in Australia?

At this stage, there are little to no laws specific to NFT creation and purchase in Australia. However, more general laws may be relevant, depending on the circumstances in question. For example, contract and consumer laws could be applied to minting, issuing and sales processes of NFTs, if the sale and purchase occurred between Australian based creators and buyers. If it is a sale outside of Australia, the NFT laws are largely non-existent for now.

Your best bet? Remain vigilant when it comes to the details of how each marketplace operates and stay on top of your cybersecurity practices.

Develop practical skills for creating NFTs in Australia

How to create NFT Australia

If you’re looking to make money out of the creation of NFTs, it’s handy to have exposure to the latest tech tools and techniques. Academy Xi offers a range of short courses in Australia that will equip you with cutting-edge tech skills and help you build a stand-out portfolio.

If you want to create your own eye-popping digital art to sell as an NFT, consider our Graphic Design courses, which can be used either to upskill or completely transform your career and will have you creating custom designs that make a real splash with your audience. 

Not sure which course is right for you? Chat to a course advisor and we’ll help you find the perfect match. 

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Academy Xi Blog

Design Thinking for innovation? Yes please.

By Academy Xi

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More than just a process and a set of tools and frameworks, Design Thinking is a mindset that simplifies complex problems by putting yourself in your users’ shoes.

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By conducting research, constant innovation and iteration till you come up with something completely new, its main goal is developing innovative and creative solutions for complex issues.

Issues that are otherwise tough to solve using traditional ways of thinking.

Contrary to what you might think, it’s not the stuff of and for Designers alone. A growing number of strategists, leaders, managers and innovation specialists are turning to Design Thinking to gain a fresh perspective and come up with out-of-the-box solutions.

Integrating Design Thinking into business processes has a lot of benefits: increased ROI, faster time-to-market, improved work culture, reduced development and testing related costs, to name a few.

In fact, 9 out of 10 forward-thinking companies are expected to increase their investments and resources in design-thinking-related activities in the coming years (source).

There’s been books written about its contribution in other industries, TedTalks discussing its importance, and a podcast featuring change-makers and design thinkers. More so it’s been at the forefront of driving social innovation for years.

But what exactly is Design Thinking and how has it helped brands like Uber, AirBNB, Pepsi, and GE innovate products and improve how their teams operate?

Here’s a list of organisations (and products!) that have harnessed the power of Design Thinking and have created a culture of innovation in their teams:

1. Airbnb

The moment you Google “design thinking examples”, this is probably on the top of the list. And there’s a reason for it:  the company was on the verge of bankruptcy earning less than 200 dollars a week in 2009 and they discovered one simple problem: potential customers are not booking rooms because they can’t see what they’re paying for. Joe Gebbia, one of the founders learned about Design Thinking from the Rhode Island School of Design and thought that they have to put themselves in the shoes of their customers.

The founders embarked on a journey, rented a camera, spent time in their customers’ homes, and took photos of the properties themselves. This is where the first step in the Design Thinking process comes to life: empathy. Airbnb has now made its name as one of the most successful startups in the tourism industry, thanks to Design Thinking. The company reported an $859 million revenue by the end of last year—a long way from the $200 per week they were raking in before switching gears.

2. PepsiCo

PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi put Design Thinking in the center of the company’s innovation strategy when she led the business in 2012. From hiring a chief design officer, to the creation of more health-oriented products, to how they look in store shelves, and to how consumers interact with the products after buying it—they have reaped the benefits of putting “design” in every important business decision.

Pepsi ImagesThe Pepsi Spire that lets users personalise their favorite brands and allowing for a more emotional, user-centred experience (Source)

Products like Pepsi Spire (that let you personalise your favorite pepsi brands) and Mountain Dew Kickstart were created through Design Thinking processes. This is more apparent in the case of the latter, by making women ‘kickstart’ their day with its slim-can design and lower calorie content.

Nooyi emphasises however that good design is not all about how a something looks but, from a company perspective, adapting and offering consumers true and honest choices.

3. UberEATS

UberEATS believes in three things to solve its complex logistical issues: deep immersions, quick iterations, and constant non-stop innovation.

Learning a city’s food culture, studying transportation and logistical infrastructures, and interacting with delivery partners, restaurant workers, and consumers, are just some of the immersive activities that UberEATS is doing to address its logistical challenges. With constant innovation through rapid field testing, team experiments and quick iterations through “innovation workshops”, the company is also able to replicate and improve design processes as efficiently as possible.

4. Not-for-profit and Public Service projects

Not only does Design Thinking apply to for-profit organisations but to not-for-profits too.

In Cambodia, access to affordable sanitation is a big problem. Through Design Thinking processes, The Easy Latrine was developed by the International Development Enterprises which provided affordable and sustainable latrine designs that made household sanitation easier and healthier in Cambodia.

In response to a growing concern in the transformation of its public food services, design company Hatch & Bloom used Design Thinking to shift The Good Kitchen’s employees’ perception of themselves and their work, resulting in a 500% increase in orders and customers. Through prototyping, design workshops, and direct user insights and dialogues, it won the Local Government Denmark Prize for Innovation in 2009.

5. GE Healthcare

Healthcare company GE utilised the Design Thinking process to revolutionise high-tech medical imaging systems, resulting in a $18 billion revenue. They had one challenge: how do you create a CT, X-Ray, and MRI scanning procedures that children will love?

GE did this by observing and gaining empathy for young children at a daycare center, talked to specialists, experts from local children’s museums, doctors, nurses and staff from hospitals. This gave birth to the first prototype of GE’s “Adventure Series” scanner that was piloted in the University of Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital. Patient satisfaction went up 90%, children did not report anxiety, and this also minimised the need for additional resources in the scanning room.

Scan MachineGE’s Adventure Room and its Adventure Series scanner (GE-Adventure Series – The Adventure Room, Source)

Design-centricity and Design Thinking in practice does not refer to a concentration on designers or the abundance of them. But rather, companies and organisations that use and benefit from good design, emphasising user-centricity through empathy, and fostering a culture of innovation. 

If you’re looking for practical Design Thinking training with mentor support and classmate collaboration, check out our 12-week Design Thinking for Innovation course

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