When the top executives of the world's wireless industry gather this week in Barcelona, Spain, for their annual trade show, cellphones will take a back seat to talk of cars, electric meters and insulin monitors.The idea of empowering new devices with wireless connections has percolated for years. General Motors cars have had wireless OnStar connections for more than a decade.But the push is intensifying now that most people have cellphones and the wireless industry's growth depends on it.That means the GSMA Mobile World Congress, the telecommunications industry's largest annual trade show, will be abuzz with discussion of devices like smart meters, which report a home's use of electricity, natural gas or water to the utility and to your phone."You'll see more things that are 'today' things versus 'tomorrow' things at the show," said Glenn Lurie, AT&T's president of emerging devices.AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson will speak at the show, which runs Monday through Thursday. He'll rub shoulders with CEOs from Deutsche Telekom, parent of T-Mobile USA; Nokia Corp.; and Vodafone Group, the British company that owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless.Another big theme will be near-field communication, or NFC. Cellphones are great at communicating with distant people and websites, but not at connecting to things in their immediate surroundings.The process of communicating with a phone that's three feet away is the same as if it's 300 miles away. Now smartphones are getting new chips so they can connect to similarly equipped phones to transfer videos quickly -- a capability Samsung has featured in some mildly salacious ads.The chips also let phones talk directly to card-swipe terminals in stores, setting off a race to organize and control the new world of mobile payments. For the occasion, most of Barcelona's taxis have been outfitted with terminals that let them accept a "tap" from a phone as a mode of payment.The show itself is set to be the biggest since its founding in 1995.The GSM Association, which organizes the shows, expects more than 70,000 attendees, and the demand for exhibit space has forced a move from the conference center at the foot of the Montjuic hill to a more modern venue farther from the city center.Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer for the GSMA, expects the show to inject $400 million into the local economy and create 6,500 part-time jobs.Last year, a massive protest against government anti-austerity measures closed the entrance to the conference center for hours. This year, only a minor disturbance is expected: a Wednesday demonstration by phone company workers over a local grievance.Those expecting the hottest new phones to make their appearance at the show may be disappointed. Manufacturers have moved away from announcing their new phones at shows, preferring to host their own events."People try to move a little bit out of the noise of the event," O'Hara said.Research In Motion Ltd., which is changing its name to BlackBerry, and HTC Corp. held events in New York in the last month to launch smartphones. Samsung is likely to wait until later to reveal the successor to its Galaxy S III.