On 4 January we celebrated World Braille Day to recognise the contribution made by the French educator Louis Braille. Back in the first half of the 19th century Braille developed a system of tactile reading and writing for blind or visually impaired people. World Braille Day is also an opportunity to raise awareness of other related issues facing blind or visually impaired people, while promoting the use of Braille and other technologies to support them.
The Braille system is based on a series of raised dots that are typically arranged in a grid of six ordered in two vertical columns of three dots each. To read Braille, a person runs their fingers over the raised dots and interprets the patterns they feel. Interestingly, Braille probably stems from military communications where more complex systems were used to send encrypted messages across battlefields at night.
A simple way to find out the corresponding classification symbols relating to Braille is to use the Classification search in Espacenet. From there, you can select the CPC symbol and click on "Find patents" to launch the search (cpc=G09B21/00/low).
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To expand the results, you can choose to refine the query in different ways. For example,
cl = "G09B21/00/low" will search simultaneously in the IPC and in the CPC.
cl = "G09B21/00/low" OR ftxt = "Braille" will search additionally for the word "Braille" in all available titles, abstracts, descriptions and claims.
cl = "G09B21/00/low" OR (ftxt = "Braille" OR ftxt=("visual*" prox/distance<3 "impaire*")) includes a proximity search that contains the right truncations of the words "visual*" at a maximum distance of 3 words away from "impaire*"
To look up the various field identifiers and search options, you can consult the Espacenet help pages or pocket guide. At the time of writing, the latter search returns 54 111 results, or patent families, corresponding to 102 997 publications.
Espacenet also offers users the option of visualising the data by activating various filters. The graph below shows a gradual increase in publications with a brief stagnation from 2007 to 2012, which can probably be explained by looking deeper into the data and the other economic factors.
The Classification filters e.g., "CPC main group" can also be useful to determine the other technical fields and identify those that are predominant e.g., G04B25/02 Tactile clocks or watches for persons who are blind.
It can also present the number of publications per country in a descending order. According to the chart below, most applicants since 1970 reside in the US, followed by South Korea and Japan.
These examples show that Espacenet can be used for a range of different purposes, from showing the evolution of a technology over time to offering an overview of the most innovative applicants by country of residence. It can also support research and development by establishing the prior art, which helps applicants to avoid unnecessary costs or investments in ideas that are not new.
Finally, patent data and non-patent literature can also be helpful for detecting new concepts. New publications like US2008089868A1 or US2022226507A1, for example, offer innovative approaches to treating - and perhaps even eradicating - blindness and visual impairment using gene and cell stem therapies.
(Source charts: ESPACENET Query ((cl = "G09B21/00/low" AND cl = "G06F3") OR (ftxt = "braille" OR ftxt=("visual*" prox/distance<3 "impaire*"))) AND pd >= "1970" )
Keywords: Braille, inclusion, Espacenet, classification, filtering