The number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to hit five billion this month, says IMS Research, and will reach 22 billion by 2020.

About one billion computers, laptops and modems were included in the first wave of Internet-connected devices, according to the company, which tracks installed Internet-capable equipment. But the growth of new Internet-connected devices is accelerating due to the networks of intelligent objects known as the Internet of Things.

The cellular industry is driving the second wave of growth. The number of Internet-enabled phones has surpassed the number of internet-enabled computers and is growing at a much faster rate, IMS Research says.

And wireless connectivity is coming to more and more of our everyday devices. IMS Research is forecasting that the 22 billion devices in 2020 will include 1.1 billion cars, 2.5 billion televisions, 6 billion cell phones.

Objects are becoming social, too. The greatest potential for growth of the Internet of Things is in machine-to-machine systems such as smart grids, networked security cameras, sensors that detect global warming, household appliances that track their electricity usage, and so on, IMS Research says.

But the Internet of Things may not be just things. Last month we posted musings from the chief futurist at Cisco, a company likely to be manufacturing some of the infrastructure for this thing-dominated Internet (Cisco Bets on the Internet of Things). He predicts livestock and pets will be major adopters, via Internet-enabled tags.