by Kara Larson, Make it Minnesota

As a married couple and a team, Debbie and Danny Leung have developed a prototype of an innovative blind guiding stick and device, which they call “Owlie”, to help blind or visually impaired people navigate.

Talk about the beginnings of Owlie. What inspired you to begin this endeavor?
It all started when we saw a blind man struggle to get around his surroundings even with a guiding stick. We were thinking there should be something better he could use and then ideas were floating in our mind. However, the Owlie project didn’t start until we learnt about 3D printing and used 3D printing to make other assistive devices like prosthetic hands.  After a couple of years of experience in 3D printing plus learning about micro-controllers, we felt confident enough to get back to work on the idea of helping the blind man so we started the Owlie project.

Have you always been creative? What choices or steps have led up to your current creative projects?
Yes. We do sketching or tinkering whenever we come up with some ideas but nothing was solid or formed. Learning 3D printing related skills helped shape our ideas so we could expand our creativity.  In other words, our basic creative skills plus 3d printing lead to our current creative projects.

In terms of living and making in Minnesota, do you feel connected to this place?
We didn’t feel connected until we learned about Maker Faire in Minnesota and found makers here.

Where in the process of making do you find fulfillment?
We find fulfillment when problems can be solved leading to our final result in the process of making.

What do you hope for in the future of your business?
In the future I hope to see more makers or others taking a role as a humanitarian especially in the world full of desire for personal gains leading to the lack of cares for others.

We want to take the Owlie project as a start for a Maker movement called “MakerCare”. We want to invite more people to join us in making variety of low cost innovative devices to assist those who have difficulties handling daily activities. We can make great things happen with the collective efforts of makers.  Our mission is to learn to make and make to care!

I think a lot of people yearn to make things, utilize their hands for tasks beyond their laptop/smart phone, and dream of becoming more self-sufficient. What advice would you give to people who have a desire to make, but don’t really know how to satiate that desire?
I would suggest them joining some local meetup groups or maker organizations. This way they don’t only pick brains from other people to learn some hand on skills and techniques for making, but also can learn how to use some equipment or tools that belong to the groups or organizations.

Are experimentation and trying to new techniques important to your vision and execution?
Yes. Experimentation and trying to new techniques are definitely important to our vision and execution because we think they are what it takes to make improvements in a project that is usually completed with more than one prototype.

Do you feel like making and creating through your business allows you to contribute to something larger than yourself?
Yes. Definitely.

Have you participated in MSP Mini Maker Faire before? What will you be sharing there on June 3rd?
We participated in MSP Mini Maker Faire before as a visitor. We’ll be an exhibitor and sharing our mission “MakerCare” through our creations.

Originally posted on Make it Minnesota (http://makeitmn.com/debbie-danny-leung/) and reposted with permission.

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