Take better baby photos with Port Coquitlam mom's invention

Lookielookies attach to your phone, tablet or DSLR screen to grab baby's attention for that winning photo.

Few things are as heavily photographed as a new baby but getting a wiggly wee one to look your way can be impossible, even with some ridiculous antics behind the camera.

That's why Port Coquitlam's Janice Wong, drawing on her skills as an engineer, has developed a unique gadget — called the lookielookie — to capture baby's attention so mom and dad can capture that perfect shot.

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"Everybody has the same problem: how to get baby to look at the camera," Wong said. "They just want to be doing their own thing."

Inspiration struck when Wong's daughter, Madelyn, was about six months old. Her husband, Aguilar Lam, is a part-time photographer so while they had plenty of professional-looking shots, the trouble was in getting little Maddy's attention.

Wong figured a gadget that attached to a camera would work but with a new baby on her hands, the idea didn't go much further.

"I put it on hold and then went back to work," she said. "But this idea was always on my mind…and I wanted to make it happen."

Eventually she and Lam sat down and crunched the numbers; in July 2014, she made the leap, leaving her senior position for the uncertain world of entrepreneurship. She took the summer off and in September started working on lookielookies full-time.

Stacks of sketches and technical drawings followed — that first career as an engineer coming in particularly handy — along with administrative tasks such as incorporating a company and filling out patent paperwork, building a website and creating a virtual lookielookie world.

There were trips to the dollar store for bits of toys and other things to assemble prototypes; a cake-making friend contributed one made out of fondant and there was a clay model as well.

Wong experimented with various recognizable shapes but settled on a bunny, which seemed to hold the strongest appeal for her target market.

Janice Wong
Port Coquitlam's Janice Wong, a former engineer, was inspired to develop lookielookies after her daughter was born. - SUBMITTED PHOTO/Aguilar Lam

Noticing that her customers are drawn to flashing lights, Wong added a camera to the bunny with a small light that blinks at different speeds and changes colour; the mop of hair between its ears is reminiscent of the faux-hawk that Maddy sported as a baby.

The finished lookielookie rotates on the end of an extendable, swivelling arm that attaches with a small suction to any phone, tablet or DSLR camera screen.

"I put a lot of thought into how the arms work," Wong said. "And I put a lot of thought into the usability because moms are busy enough. I just wanted something really simple."

Last summer, Wong received her first shipment, a small batch of lookielookies that quickly captured the attention of not just babies but the blogosphere as well. Five minutes after launching on Instagram, she had her first order.

Word quickly spread as proud parents shared their own lookielookie-assisted pics and the rest of the first shipment sold quickly as well. Soon, Wong was placing a full production order.

Eager to get lookielookies into the hands of moms and dads around the world, Wong took another leap in March by auditioning for Dragon's Den. The family will be filming its pitch to the Dragons on May 15.

"Because it's a brand new concept, I wanted to get the word out as quickly as possible," Wong said. "If I can shake hands with the Dragons, I can do that a lot faster."

And while Wong admits to being a bit nervous to stand in front of the stern-faced judges, she's also relishing the challenge and the chance to hear some business advice from the experts.

"It will be an amazing experience regardless of the outcome," Wong said. "I'm going to try my best, get the most out of it and see what happens."

• For more information visit www.lookielookies.com.


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