The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to gather steam. Research firm Gartner Inc. is forecasting that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year, up 31% from 2016, and will reach 20.4 billion by 2020.

Total spending on endpoints and services will reach almost $2 trillion in 2017, the firm said. Regionally, Greater China, North America and Western Europe are driving the use of connected things and these regions together will account for about two thirds of the overall IoT installed base in 2017.

While the consumer segment is the largest user of connected things, businesses are on pact to employ 3.1 billion connected things in 2017.

"Aside from automotive systems, the applications that will be most in use by consumers will be smart TVs and digital set-top boxes, while smart electric meters and commercial security cameras will be most in use by businesses," said Peter Middleton, research director at Gartner.

In addition to smart meters, applications aimed at specific industry verticals such as manufacturing, utilities and healthcare will drive the use of connected things among businesses through 2017, with 1.6 billion units deployed.

From 2018 onward, cross-industry devices such as those designed for smart buildings will take the lead as connectivity is driven into higher-volume, lower cost devices. In 2020, cross-industry devices will reach 4.4 billion units, Gartner said, while vertical-specific devices will amount to 3.2 billion units.

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