Southern Oregon Technology in Demand

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ASHLAND, Ore. — From conflict in the Middle East to the entertainment industry, some of the most advanced technologies in the world are being built right here in the Rogue Valley.

The underground tech industry is budding in Southern Oregon. A handful of companies are developing these products that are being used in war and peacetime all over the world.

One Southern Oregon hangar is home to one of several tech companies in the Rogue Valley. They sell advanced products, like  traffic cones that are built to detect improvised explosive devices.

Products like these are the most advanced of their kind, and they’re sold all over the world.¬†The Rogue Detection System, made right here in the Rogue Valley, detects wearable explosives like those used by suicide bombers or the Boston Marathon bombers.

Its designers, Ashland-based Sierra-Romeo, say the technology is impossible to fool. That’s because it measures changes in the Earth’s magnetic field that various metals leave behind. Carry a cell phone or keys, and the screen will barely blip. A gun or pressure cooker bomb will sound the alarms.

Sierra-Romeo is one of a handful of companies that make up the underground tech industry in the Rogue Valley. Its companies produce everything from wireless technology, to diode lasers, to those traffic cone bomb detectors.

Experts with Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development say this industry is a big priority, still small, but drawing talent from local colleges and around the world. SOREDI officials say the industry is still very new, but they hope to build up a reputation for the valley as a desirable place for highly-skilled engineers and designers from Silicon Valley and the rest of the world.