Many construction companies have leveraged software, and even apps, to improve business productivity on projects. However, the next generation of technology comes in the form of connected hardware—and it is beginning to make its mark on construction.

Imagine a jobsite where tools check themselves in and out; trucks send notifications when a certain speed limit has been exceeded; safety harnesses accumulate detailed information for inspections; materials are tracked in a matter of seconds; cellphones become tools to manage driver safety; and employee badges track down which employees are clocked in.

While this may seem futuristic to some builders and contractors, M2M, IoT (Internet of Things), RFID (radio-frequency identification), LBS (location-based services), drones, and other connected technologies are beginning to make this a reality.

As one example, last month, DEWALT, www.dewalt.com, Baltimore, Md., announced it is adding to its growing offering of connected tools with the launch of its line of lithium ion batteries with Bluetooth capability. The batteries pair with Apple and Android smart devices via the free Tool Connect App, which gives users the ability to control batteries remotely with a Bluetooth device.

While manufacturers are making a bigger push for connectivity in hardware as of late, other tech providers such as ToolWatch, www.toolwatch.com, Englewood, Colo., ToolHound, www.toolhound.com, Alberta, Alta., and Trimble, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., have been touting the benefits of connectivity in construction for years.

Even though tools are one area connectivity is being added, high-tech hardware can come in many different forms. OxBlue, www.oxblue.com, Atlanta, Ga., for example, recently launched a new device for custom time-lapse construction movies, allowing clients to quickly and easily create custom movies of projects. The videos can be used to track and review work performed on a jobsite to communicate progress to stakeholders and to showcase work for potential clients and investors.

Technology from OxBlue has even been used on projects for the Atlanta Braves, Seattle Seahawks, and Philadelphia 76ers, where projects managers and other project stake holders will use the movies to improve communication and project management and to help keep projects on schedule.

Certainly, GPS is also becoming more widely used in construction, with companies such as GPS Insight helping to lead a charge in construction by identifying the true benefits of the tech for construction.

Still there are other areas that are more advanced including using RFID (radio-frequency identification) to manage materials and workers on a jobsite. Atlas RFID Solutions, www.atlasrfid.com, Birmingham, Ala., for example, provides field mobility and ID solutions for construction, and has a number of customers using the technology to help with decisionmaking.

Another example comes from ADR Software, www.softwareadr.com, Sterling, Va., which provides a service that enables contractors to monitor the construction workforce in realtime using an RFID tracking system to better manage construction projects.

In an effort to help identify the leaders in the space, Constructech is unveiling a new awards program for 2015—Constructech Connected Hardware, which technology providers can nominate for now. The winners will be announced in the Sept/Oct issue of Constructech magazine.

The good news is the technology is continuing to advance and tech-savvy contractors are implementing the technology. Now it is a matter of identifying the best players and opportunities for the future.

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