The term NFC (near-field communication) may not mean much to you these days, but sometime in the very near future this technology could play a prominent role for your construction company. NFC has been most closely associated with the market for digital payments—think Google Wallet, for example—but the usefulness of the technology makes it applicable for many data-intensive tasks around the jobsite.

A quick primer on NFC: Based on a set of networking and communication standards, NFC refers to establishing radio communication between devices for the purposes of such actions as contactless payment and data exchange, among others. This high frequency RFID (radio frequency identification), which operates in the 13.56 mhz, is being incorporated into more smartphones. More directly tied to the construction industry, mobile-scanning device makers and even tool manufacturers are including NFC as a part of their offerings.

Companies like ToolWatch, www.toolwatch.com, Englewood, Colo., have been working with technology like RFID for years for purposes of its asset-tracking technology systems. Company officials have hinted at the fact NFC presents one of the big technology opportunities in construction going forward.

The term is being brought to the limelight more and more as market research firm ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, Oyster Bay, N.Y., forecasts a total of 1.95 billion NFC-enabled devices will ship in 2017. This will be through a combination of both handsets and consumer-electronics devices, with a large majority of the NFC enablement being focused in the handset market. However, ABI does expect an increase in NFC-type functionality for such purposes as pairing devices, exchanging data, and even online authentication functionality.

The key here from what ABI Research is forecasting is the fact NFC inclusion into devices other than handsets show an acknowledgment that NFC technology will be used for more than payments. ABI says the added value will come through enabling convenient online/offline authentication and reader functionality among other features.

In construction, NFC technology can play a significant role in helping track certain assets. Given the short-range communication it could be ideal for checking things like tools in and out, for example.

Even the technology going inside of the homes being built are leveraging NFC. Recently Crestron, www.crestron.com, Rockleigh, N.J., announced new home control solutions called airConnect that uses NFC to automatically adjust room settings when people enter the space. Users can initiate personalized settings for each room simply by walking in. Such an action would prompt such things as the automatic adjustment of temperature, lighting, and window shades.

Mobile devices continue to add smarts to the construction process, helping streamline actions for everyone from the workers to the eventual occupants of the projects. NFC is just one of many emerging technology to keep an eye on for the future. But it could be perhaps one of the more exciting.