Today, we look back at some of the top technology stories from 2014. Our first story is on the introduction of new products from the American technology company Apple.
Apple unveils smartwatch, bigger iPhones
Apple announced it would release a new smartwatch, known as the Apple Watch. The company also released updates of its popular iPhones series, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The Apple Watch is the first Apple product to be developed by the company under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Mr. Cook became CEO in 2011, just a few weeks before the death of company co-founder Steve Jobs.
The watch will let people watch their health, and will include maps. It will also permit wearers to enter rooms by unlocking the doors.
Mr. Cook also presented two new models of the company’s iPhone.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have larger screens and more power. The iPhone has been sold worldwide since 2007.
The South Korean technology company Samsung sells many more mobile phones worldwide than Apple does. But Apple is still one of the most valuable companies in the world.
The company also said it is starting a new mobile payments service. Apple Pay will let users pay for products using their phones, instead of traditional credit or debit cards.
US politicians debate net neutrality
Earlier this year, U.S. regulators proposed big changes in the way the Internet operates in the country. The Federal Communications Commission voted to offer a plan that could affect Internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Under the plan, the service providers could make deals with companies like Google and Facebook to provide them with faster paths to get their content to consumers.
Some consumer groups and Internet companies oppose the plan. So do a majority of people questioned in a new University of Delaware study. President Barack Obama also dislikes the proposed changes. He spoke recently about how the Internet should be organized around ideas like openness, fairness and freedom.
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent regulator. So President Obama cannot order the FCC to make changes. recently, the President sought to persuade commission members to regulate consumer Internet services like a public utility.
Harold Furchtgott-Roth is an economist and former FCC commissioner. He says the Internet adds hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. He adds that new rules would be unnecessary and unwise.
He says proposals to govern the Internet as if it was a telephone company would interfere in many decisions, including pricing. He says those decisions should be made by people who operate the business.
The issue will likely be fought over by regulators, the courts and Congress.
Researchers work on 3-D printing of living tissue
Three-dimensional printers are fast becoming everyday devices in the United States. Three-D printers are used to make everything from automobile parts to bone replacements for human patients. American research scientists are now working on creating replacements for living tissue.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina have been working on creating and manufacturing living tissue since 2003. This process is called biofabrication. It requires special printing equipment and a special kind of ink.
Traditional printers require ink to produce an image or design on a piece of paper. For their three-D printer, the South Carolina researchers prepare complex nutritious solutions they call bio-inks. Bio-inks are made of proteins and glucose, which normally provides energy for most cells of the body. The researchers also add living cells taken from the animal that will receive the new, printed tissue. The bio-inks are then added to a device that researchers call the Palmetto bio-printer.
The bio-inks are placed in three dispensers, containers, inside the printer. Lasers control both the position of the printing surface and the places where the bio-ink is released.
The researchers say bio-printing is still experimental. But they hope in a few years they may be able to print tissue to replace damaged human organs.
And those are just a few of the top technology stories in 2014. Tell us what you think were the most important stories this year.
I’m Jonathan Evans.