A Vancouver-area company is set to publicly demonstrate its new quantum computer next week in what may be the first time the paradigm-shifting technology leaves the research laboratory.

D-Wave Systems Inc. of Burnaby, B.C. plans to show off its commercial quantum computers at the Computer History Museum on Feb. 13 and at the Telus World of Science museum in Vancouver on Feb. 15.

Quantum technology could revolutionize the computer industry by allowing systems to simultaneously perform multiple calculations where traditional computers would have to perform them one at a time.

Such a system would be governed by the rules of quantum physics, as opposed tophysics laws such as mechanics, gravity and Einstein's theory of relativity. Quantum mechanics rule particle interactions below the atomic scale, where the conventional laws of physics break down.

The fundamental element of a traditional computer is a bit, which, like a switch, can only be in the on or off state at any given moment, or hold a value of either one or zero.

In contrast, the fundamental element of quantum computing,the quantum bit or "qubit," can exist in multiple states at the same time so every qubit is simultaneously on and off with a value of one and zero.

The ability of a qubit to exist in both the on-and-off state simultaneously is what would theoretically make a quantum computer astronomically more powerful than those that exist today.

D-Wave says its computer can perform 64,000 calculations simultaneously.

According to D-Wave, its 16-qubit device exploits a new approach, putting it into a category known as an adiabatic quantum computer (AQC). Such a system is designed to solve a single type of problem only.