LAS VEGAS -- In the expanding universe called the Internet of Things, even garbage bins will be networked together wirelessly. That way, a central console -- perhaps one that's monitored automatically -- can know whether a bin has been overturned or is full.
It's the kind of information that a trash collection company or a city sanitation department would highly value, preventing expensive and time-consuming trips by truck drivers to monitor the mounting trash.
AT&T has been working in recent years to capitalize on just such innovations, and now boasts it has 23 million different devices connected to its network -- everything from automobiles to wheelchairs to home thermostats.
Even though AT&T's involvement in IoT is impressive, it is minisculel when compared to the nearly 5 billion devices and machines that are connected to the Internet. Research firm Gartner believes that number will explode to 25 billion by 2020.
"We're very, very excited with what's coming," said Glenn Lurie, CEO of AT&T Mobility in a keynote address at the CTIA Super Mobility 2015 show here.
AT&T made a series of IoT announcements at the annual event, including a multi-year partnership with Jaguar Land Rover North America to provide wireless connectivity to vehicles like the Range Rover. In all, AT&T has partnerships with nine of the 15 biggest auto makers, Lurie said.
AT&T and location-based software maker Telogis also announced a collaboration to offer wireless connections to companies for tracking and monitoring small and large trucks and heavy equipment.
Also this week, AT&T said it had formed a Smart Cities Organization to help cities use IoT and its wireless network to monitor streetlights, water and sewer systems, even speeding cars on roadways.
While AT&T is pursuing multiple fronts in IoT, its work in the connected-car space may be the most impressive. Lurie said that half the connected cars that shipped this year were connected to AT&T's network. "This business has just exploded," he said. "Car companies really get it."
About 16 million new cars will ship with wireless connections each year in coming years, he predicted.