U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Landscape Study of Mobile ID Fingerprint Devices

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2014
34 pages

This report presents a "landscape" view of the issues and products associated with mobile devices for fingerprint identification, with a focus on forensic applications.


The report identifies four investigative benefits of mobile devices for fingerprint identification. First, they save time. Interoperable mobile ID devices that are paired with automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) can deliver results within seconds via wireless communication, and multijurisdictional AFIS searches can be conducted to improve "hit" probability. Second, improved fingerprint quality is possible with mobile ID devices, since scans can be easily repeated with such device. Third, portability and maneuverability are enabled, since mobile ID devices are handheld and can be carried into the field for crime or death scene investigations. A fourth benefit is their capture of multiple biometric features, including iris scans and facial recognition images. In order to obtain these benefits, however, agencies must overcome the barriers that hinder their implementation. These barriers include funding, since agency budgets are often limited; the procurement process, which requires the time and dedication of many individuals in order to ensure that the selected device performs as expected; a change in departmental policy required for the implementation of mobile ID devices; and the establishment of access to extra-jurisdictional AFIS databases. Information is provided on the specification of multimodal devices that include multiple sensors and cameras that capture a range of biometric data, along with information on single-feature mobile ID devices that provide limited functions at an attractive price. Information is also provided on several component manufacturers and emerging companies that are influencing mobile ID fingerprinting. In addition, issues of cost, complexity, and connection are discussed.

Date Published: January 1, 2014