The Internet of Things (or IoT) will bring 50 billion things online by 2020, and connect formerly unconnected things (like cars, conveyor belts, street lights and even manhole covers) to the Internet.

The purpose of all these connections is to automate tasks so we don't have to do as much work -- doesn't that sound great? For example, Whirlpool already sells a washing machine that detects when it's out of detergent and automatically orders it for you through your account. Two days later, it's on your doorstep!

Some of the biggest IoT markets will be connected automobiles and smart cities. To get a jump on the trend, AT&T (T -1.21%) already has 6 million connected cars on the road, and it just signed a deal with Ford to bring an additional 10 million online by 2020. Verizon Communications (VZ -4.67%) is also tapping into the market by considering an unlimited, flat-rate data plan specifically for IoT connections in cities.

The IoT will bring us massive amounts of data that can be used to make nearly every industry more efficient. Check out the video below to find out how the Internet of Things will impact industries, and just how lucrative the opportunity is for investors.