By 2020, there will be a quarter of a billion connected vehicles on the road globally, according to new research by Gartner.
In its report, Predicts 2015: The Internet of Things, Gartner forecast that within five years, one in five vehicles around the world will have some sort of wireless internet connection, at an estimated total of more than 250 million vehicles.
Already, the number of connected cars coming onto the market is rising rapidly, with the likes of BMW, Ford, Mercedes, and of course Tesla -- in fact, most of the world's larger car manufacturers -- already offering some form of wireless online connection in their latest vehicles.
The European Commission is aiming to have all cars in the European Union retro-fitted with a device dubbed eCall, an automated and wirelessly connected device alerting emergency services to motor accidents and details, by the end of 2018, effectively turning every car in the EU into a connected device.
"The connected car is already a reality, and in-vehicle wireless connectivity is rapidly expanding from luxury models and premium brands to high-volume mid-market models," said Gartner research director James F Hines.
Gartner's research suggests that the online connection of more than 250 million vehicles over the next five years will enable new in-vehicle services, automated driving capabilities, and business models within the automotive industry.
"The increased consumption and creation of digital content within the vehicle will drive the need for more sophisticated infotainment systems, creating opportunities for application processors, graphics accelerators, displays, and human-machine interface technologies," said Hines. "At the same time, new concepts of mobility and vehicle usage will lead to new business models and expansion of alternatives to car ownership, especially in urban environments."
According to Gartner's estimates, the predicted number of connected vehicles will represent only a fraction of the total connected devices that it expects will be online by 2020 as the Internet of Things (IoT) market takes hold.
Gartner forecasts that 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and will reach 25 billion by 2020.
RIP internet fridge, hello IoT fridge
While IoT sub-categories such as wearables and machine-to-machine communications have received plenty of attention, Gartner suggested that the "connected kitchen" has the potential to impact several industry sectors, including retail, healthcare, and insurance.
By 2020, the connected kitchen will contribute at least 15 percent savings in the food and beverage industry, while leveraging big data analytics, Gartner has predicted.
"The connected kitchen creates digital business opportunities at several levels in the food supply chain and retail food service," said Gartner principal research analyst Satish RM. "A real-time inventory data collection from sensors related to kitchen ingredients enables automated generation and ordering of shopping lists, resulting in a streamlined and efficient inventory and optimised supply chain management."
While some of the world's biggest internet and tech giants, including Google and Apple, have been establishing their own IoT platforms and device portfolio, Gartner suggests that until after 2018, there will not be a dominant IoT ecosystem platform, and IT operators will still need to compose solutions from multiple providers.
"Many standards and ecosystems for the IoT are still in development, and some of the vendors and ecosystems may fail during the working lifetime of current IoT projects," said Alfonso Velosa, research director at Gartner. "CIOs will need to ensure their prime system integrator has a strategy to future-proof their project.
"This is especially critical if the project involves infrastructure that may be in the field for decades. A gateway-based architecture will be a key approach to future-proofing IoT projects," he said.
IT security vendor Sophos expects the rising tide of IoT devices in the market to gain more attention from malicious hackers this year.
In May last year, Gartner vice president and analyst Joe Skorupa said that security would be one of the top challenges to accompany the emergence of the IoT.
"The enormous number of devices, coupled with the sheer volume, velocity, and structure of IoT data, creates challenges, particularly in the areas of security, data, storage management, servers, and the datacentre network," he said at the time.