At a recent Information Technology Industry Council Tech Showcase (ITIC) event in Washington, D.C., hundreds of politicos, government executives, industry magnates and Washington insiders huddled in the historic Carnegie Library to get hands on experience with high tech gadgets from over 40 companies including Google, Intel, Microsoft, Toyota and SAP.

The theme of the event was The Internet of Things (IoT) and there was no shortage of innovative examples on display. From Intel’s use of drones to monitor oil pipelines to Texas Instrument’s enhanced driving experience, attendees were able to dabble in the near future enabled by IoT.

Congress’ growing interest in IoT arrives in the wake of an eye-opening, new report by the Federal Trade Commission that predicts the number of Internet-connected devices will top a staggering 25 billion worldwide. That number is expected to double by 2020 to 50 billion, according to experts cited by the report. Not surprisingly, The White House has been engaging the public and private sectors to explore the tangible benefits of IoT around transportation, emergency services, health care, security, energy conservation, and manufacturing.

Many of these examples were on display at the ITIC event, with SAP’s Smart Vending Machine stealing the show, wowing senators, governors and other attendees with its user friendly interface and ability to offer a personalized shopping experience. But events like the ITIC Tech Showcase involve much more than just a quick branding exercise for IoT companies, according to Kevin Richards, Head of U.S. Government Relations, SAP.

“The Internet of Things has become a hot topic of discussion on Capitol Hill and the White House,” said Richards. “There’s been a lot of activity in Washington, D.C. among U.S. government officials as they discuss the potential benefits, risks and overall business model. SAP and our partners will continue to demonstrate, unlock and demystify cutting-edge IoT innovations to help educate policymakers so they can better understand this growing field and support sound public policies that will enhance its future development.”

This story also appeared on SAP Business Trends.