Contactless Fingerprints

Contactless fingerprints refer to fingerprints being captured without the need for a subject to contact a collection device. This could be fingerprints obtained from a stationary device where a subject simply passes their hand/fingers over a sensor area, or from a smartphone camera.

Contactless fingerprint technology may offer a rapid and hygienic alternative to conventional fingerprint capture equipment, such as live-scan devices. However, there are challenges in using contactless capture of fingerprints. While it is easy to distinguish topographical highs (ridges) and lows (valleys) in a contact collection, this is not the case with contactless fingerprints. The illumination of a three-dimensional (3D) object, as is done with contactless collection, creates complicating factors such as over-illumination, shadows, and reversal of polarity (ridges appearing as valleys and vice versa).

The FBI is working closely with the National Institute of Standards and Evaluation (NIST) to test the accuracy of contactless fingerprint and to develop a pathway to certifying the collection of contactless images meet necessary image quality and interoperability standards.

Contactless Fingerprint Pilot

The FBI is conducting testing of contactless fingerprint technology to assess its accuracy and efficiency compared to traditional contact collection of fingerprint images for law enforcement purposes. The Contactless Fingerprint Pilot (CFP) allows the collection of fingerprint images via a contactless method (e.g., smartphone camera) from consenting individuals following a submission of fingerprints with an FBI-certified contact fingerprint collection device.

Fingerprint images are collected from consenting individuals pursuant to 28 USC 533, 534; 34 USC 10211(a)(2); 28 CFR 0.85(e); and 28 CFR Part 46. Under the approved conditions of the research study:

  • Neither the images of the individual’s hands or contactless fingerprint images may be used against them for any criminal, civil or administrative investigative purpose.
  • The images of the individual’s hands and any contactless fingerprint images extracted from those images will be irrevocably destroyed upon completion of the study.
  • The individual has the right to withdraw from the study within five (5) calendar days from the above date and time of collection of the images.

The contactless fingerprint images will be maintained and shared by authorized government and non-governmental entities for research, testing, and development consistent with the protection of personal information as required by law and policy.

Withdrawal from the Contactless Fingerprint Pilot

If your contactless fingerprint images have been collected pursuant to this research study and you wish to withdraw your contactless fingerprint images within five (5) calendar days of collection, you may do so by providing information via the below link:

Withdrawal from the Contactless Fingerprint Pilot