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Current Designs was founded in 1994 to provide instrumentation that would make a fundamental difference in the work of researchers and scientists.
We've grown organically over the years from the sales of products, custom instruments and engineering services, through conscious decisions to keep costs low and to focus on the needs of our customers.
In the process, we've created a Design/Build engineering business where electronics, firmware, machining, and production happen in a tightly integrated process.
We've been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with hundreds of researchers who have allowed us to be a part of their innovative projects.
Chances are that you are on this web site because of your interest in our fiber optic response devices. They've been the larger part of our business for the past ten years.
In 1995 and 1996 we developed a few precursors to the fORP with Mac ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) output and spray-painted keyboard buttons. In next few years we sold a number of these fiber optic response pads, now called the fORP, and began to develop it in ways that it would make it work better. The original fiber optic bundle was a thin jacketed bundle of 16 fibers, flexible and compact, but quite fragile. The tiny fibers had very low light levels, so just getting it to work required lots of tricks and a little luck.
In 2002 we switched to larger fibers and robust tubing for our fiber bundles. We developed our optical connectors so we could use one bundle with several different handhelds. The higher light levels made it possible for new types of devices including a joystick and trackball. The new fORP interface unit had a compact switch to select one of the program options which now included USB.
The third generation fORP interface was introduced in 2009. The biggest advancement is the automatic gain adjustment which sets the gain for each channel based on the light level when powered up, so the response devices are interchangeable and the gain can increase to compensate somewhat if the fiber optics are damaged. System components are no longer calibrated to each other in individual systems, but are instead built to an optical standard, so they can be easily replaced if there is a problem. Other major improvements include unlimited program options selected using an OLED display, and the additional of an optical trigger input. Less noticeable is the new opto-electronic architecture which supports 32 channels--a big increase from the 8 channel FIU-005--making many new more sophisticated devices possible.
What's Special About Current Designs
Experience: Experience matters in two important ways. First of all, it means that our products have been around for a while, so we've had a chance to make lots of improvements. What matters is how our response devices function, and we have worked continually to make them function as well as possible. Second, it means that we have a lot invested in the business, so we'll be here when you need a repair or your next response device. Unlike many start ups, we're in business because we like making the fORP and working with researchers. We plan to keep doing this for years to come. When you buy a fORP, you become an important part of this experience. Your feedback will be important to us, so stop by our booth at a conference or email us what works well for you and what you might like to improve. Our future customers will appreciate it.
Problem Solving: We like to solve problems which is why we have a business making instrument for scientific and medical researchers. And in the process we solve lots of our own problems, like how to make more robust fiber optics that can put up with a wide range of response conditions. Current Designs products should help you do your research better and answer important questions, which is just more problem solving.
Technology: As a technology business, we rely on technical solutions to our problems. We've developed a wide-range of custom manufacturing and test equipment for our fiber optic and mechanical assemblies, all of which is integrated together by a company wide Wiki. This keeps specifications and data at everyone's finger tips, and facilitates the improvement of our processes and procedures which lets us make the best products that we can.
Work Environment: We believe that a relaxed and focused work environment produces the highest quality. This quality and reliability are important because of the time and money pressures of the research community. Just like we use only fiber optics for components that are in the scanner room, so you never have to worry about noise or safety issues with the fORP, we try to produce the most reliable product we can, so you can count on our equipment in your studies, and relax a bit.
Customers: For the past 25 years, we've been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a thoughtful and innovative research community. We appreciate your continued interest in our equipment, and look forward to working with you for many years to come.
Who We Are
In 1994 Ben Dugan and Jennifer Johnson started Current Designs following a decade working in university research. Seven years later Current Designs expanded into a 4200 sf industrial building which provided facilities for many new kinds of projects.
The people who work at Current Designs come from a variety of backgrounds including manufacturing, software development, architecture, engineering, sculpture, glassblowing, writing, ceramics, print making, and industrial design. Everyone receives comprehensive training in practices and standards, with the fundamental belief that the most productive work environment is one where you are constantly learning new skills.