When my Internet cut out unexpectedly last weekend, I found myself pacing my living room before I finally decided my time would be better spent doing the dishes, mopping the floor and vacuuming -- you know, all those things I rarely get around to doing when I have TheAtlantic.com to distract me. Except when my router fails, I am always connected to the Internet, accessing it through laptops, a desktop, a smartphone and loads of other devices.

And I'm not alone. We all have so many iThings now that the number of devices connected to the Internet was actually greater than the total number of people on Earth in 2008. By 2020, according to infographic released by Cisco, there will be 50 billion things connected to the Internet. That's all of the devices I've already mentioned, but also some more unusual ones, like cows. Read on.

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • During 2008, the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on Earth. By 2020, there will be 50 billion things connected to the Internet. And these things are not just smartphones and tablets; they're everything.
  • For example, a Dutch startup called Sparked is using wireless sensors on cattle. When a cow is sick or pregnant, the sensor sends a message to the farmer. With these devices, each cow transmits 200 mb of data every year.
  • These things are starting to talk to each other and develop their own intelligence. Imagine a scenario where your meeting was pushed back 45 minutes and your car knows it will need gas to make it to the train station and that filling up at the pump usually takes five minutes, but there was an accident on your driving route that will cause a 15-minute detour and your train is running 20 minutes behind schedule ... so your alarm clock allows you to sleep for an extra five minutes and your car is told to start five minutes later so that the ice that accumulated overnight will have melted by the time you make it outside.
  • By the end of 2011, 20 typical households will generate more Internet traffic than the entire Internet as it existed in 2008.
  • With the new IPv6 protocol, we will have 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 possible Internet addresses, or 100 for every atom on the face of the Earth.

Check out more Infographics on the Technology Channel.


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