China Holds World’s First Quantum Video Call

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5:15 PM HKT, Tue October 3, 2017

Remember Micius, that Chinese quantum satellite we wrote about last week? The one responsible for beaming the “First Object Teleported from Earth to Orbit”?

It’s making headlines again with a new milestone: the first quantum Skype. Gizmodo digests this latest breakthrough:

The Micius satellite has made the news several times this year, thanks to its role in some crazy-sounding science like setting quantum teleportation and entanglement records. The satellite is doing some potentially important, real-life work, however, allowing the Chinese government to set up more secure communications lines with the help of quantum mechanics. Now, the Chinese Academy of Sciences reports the first quantum-safe video call between its president, Chunli Bai, and President Anton Zeilinger of the Austria Academy of Sciences in Vienna.

The Micius satellite and related QUESS experiments are a collaboration between the Chinese and Austrian Academies of Science, and this “inter-continental quantum call” was held between each Academy’s president. Here’s a bit more about how the quantum encryption works, from the official press release:

In the run-up to the video call, Micius first generated light particles with a random oscillation direction, the so-called polarization. The single photons with their various polarizations were then transmitted as a sequence of ones and zeros to the ground station near the Austrian city of Graz. There, the polarization states were measured and compared randomly with the sequence sent by the satellite.


But this also opens up a whole new category of existential dilemma. If you make a quantum video call and no one answers, are they busy watching Schrödinger’s cat YouTubes?

Cover photo: Johannes Handsteiner/ÖAW

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