Frequently Asked Questions

Most frequently asked questions and answers designed to help contestants understand how to enter and participate in the mFIT Challenge. We are actively collecting and updating this page based on your questions. We’ll notify registered members via email when we update this page.  


Last Updated: 1/21/2022 

Please email with your challenge-related questions. 


What is the goal of the mFIT Challenge?

This challenge seeks innovative new or improved mobile applications that access the available sensors on mobile devices to capture high-quality digital fingerprint images, thereby improving the performance and efficiency of identification in the field. Contestants are asked to submit a mobile application that captures quality digital images of at least two fingers (including index and middle) on the left and right hands. The ultimate objective of this challenge is to advance technology while preserving the form factor of the mobile device. Law enforcement officers explicitly do not want to carry additional equipment; however, a contestant’s prototype may modify the form factor with justification.

Who is eligible to participate?

Individuals, teams, and private entities are encouraged to submit entries. An individual must be age 18 or older at the time of entry and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. or its territories. Private entities (company, institution, or other organization) must be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the U.S. or its territories. A team must have at least one member that meets the definition of either Individual or Private Entity. Please read the Eligibility Requirements in the Official Rules.   

Do I have to participate in Phase 1 to participate in Phase 2?

No.  NIST will accept up to five Phase 2 submissions from “Walk-on” teams. Walk-on contestants are contestants who meet all eligibility requirements defined in the Official Rules. To compete in Phase 2, Walk-on contestants will submit all materials required for Phase 2. Walk-on contestants will not receive prize awards associated with Phase 1 during the Phase 2 competition.

What happens to my intellectual property?

Contestants will retain all intellectual property rights. Contestants are granting PSCR the right to publicize the contestants’ names and participation. As PSCR will retain the final prototypes, contestants are also granting PSCR a “demonstration license” for additional research purposes. Please read the Submission Rights section of the Official Rules for the full text.

What scores will the challenge share?

We will use a weighted formula to process individual statistics (e.g., AFIS Matching Score, Entropy, and NFIQM) into a final evaluation score. We will share final rankings when we announce the winners; we will not provide the individual statistical scores or the final weighted scores.

How do I contact the mFIT Challenge team?

Questions about this Challenge should be directed to We will answer your questions by email and with a post to the FAQs page on this website.

Is there a Slack channel to communicate with fellow participants?

Yes, all registered participants can request to join the mFIT Prize Challenge Slack workspace using the workspace URL: After you register, the mFIT prize challenge team will send you an email inviting you to the Slack channel. 

How can I reach out to the SMEs of this challenge?

At this time, participants cannot directly reach the SMEs. However, please send questions to or add your question to the Slack channel. The mFIT prize challenge team will work with the SMEs to provide responses.

I want to partner with a Public Safety expert or first responder. Any suggestions on how to find a PS collaborator?

Here are some options. 

  1. Reach out to your city, county, or state public safety organizations for a connection. If you are near a federal law enforcement facility, you may want to reach out to that organization. 
  2. Create an innovator’s profile on the R2 Network ( and specify that you are seeking a PS expert or law enforcement first responder to collaborate on your project.
  3. Enter a request on the mFIT Slack channel.

Where can I find a list of approved smartphone devices (commercial smartphones) that can be used in this challenge?

There is not a list of approved devices. Any devices used for this challenge must be a commercially available mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet. Smartphone Hardware Development Kits (HDK) are acceptable as well but will be evaluated and scored based on the potential to match the form factor of a commercially available mobile device.

IOS- or Android-based?

The contest is platform agnostic - any platform works.

How many prototype devices will you need from each participant?

We only require one device. Teams may submit an identical backup device for redundancy.

Which Appendix F-certified devices will the challenge use in the evaluation?

NIST will not be releasing specific information on the devices used.

What matching algorithm(s) will be used?

We will use NFRaCT, a tool built by NIST. NFRaCT will allow us to make more sophisticated evaluations. A beta version of the tool is available to registered competitors. Please contact to request access. 

Is the NIST tool fully automated, or does it require manual selection of features between the contact and touchless images?

We plan to use the NFRaCT automated feature selection tool which will then be verified for sanity by a trained operator.

Will the matching test be one-to-one or one-to-many?

Both. Prototype-captured prints will be compared to the target captured with one or more Appendix F-certified devices. Prototype-captured prints will also be used to conduct a simulated risk query against a high performance law enforcement matcher containing approximately 2 million background prints including those belonging to the volunteers captured using Appendix F-certified devices. 

Will the program’s raw code be required?

NIST is not requesting raw code from contestants; the expectation is for the code to be loaded onto a device.

Will subjects be collecting their own fingerprints?

Subjects will not collect their own fingerprints. We will have trained operators capturing the fingerprints of subjects.

What sort of subjects will be used in the evaluation?

We anticipate 50 - 100 volunteers who are federal employees in Boulder, CO.  All volunteers will be tested against all devices.

How do you expect to authenticate an authorized user who is sending the fingerprint?

This competition focuses on the capture of fingerprints specifically and is not seeking a complete end-to-end solution. This competition will not evaluate user authentication.

What is the required size for fingerprint images?

The final resolution of images must be 500 ± 5 pixels per square inch. The recommended dimensions for a fingerprint image are 1 inch wide by 2 inches tall (500 pixels by 1000 pixels). Optical resolution of devices may be higher than 500 ppi, but output images must be down sampled to 500 ppi ± 5 ppi.

How will the resolution requirements be evaluated?

Our evaluation tool, NFRaCT, is calibrated against 500 ppi images. Any significant deviation from that resolution will likely produce poor results which would result in a lower score.

What if a solution uses an internet-based service to process captured fingerprint images?

As stated in the rules, any network-based (e.g., internet, cloud) applications must be supplied to PSCR as a Docker image that PSCR will configure on our laboratory environment. Due to security concerns and human research protections, no images will be transmitted outside of the PSCR lab. We refer to any network-based application as a ‘backend service.’ 


Our current plan, subject to change without notice, is to reduce the 1:1 comparison score for a fingerprint image processed using a backend service by five percent. If the solution can process images both on the device and on a backend service, both images (backend processed and on-device processed) will be evaluated and the higher score, including the backend score reduction, will be used to compute the final score. There is no point reduction for backend access for licensing or similar functions. 

For the Phase 1 Concept Paper, may I flex the page count between the sections?

No, to keep the playing field level, we must follow the criteria in the Official Rules which states the maximum number of pages for each section. Cover page & abstract (1 page); Project description (10 pages max); Key Team Members’ Info (2 pages max).

Is there any template of preferred format for the Concept Paper? Or is it a free choice for the participants?

We did not provide a template for the Concept Paper. Your paper should be written using a standard (8.5x11 inch) page size, 1-inch margins, single-spaced, and in a legible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12 font, Calibri 12 font, etc.). Please refer to the Concept Paper Submission Requirements in the Official Rules for details on what to include in the body of your paper.

Will the concept papers be publicly available, or available for the contestants?

Participants may choose to share their concept papers, but submissions will not be made public unless contestants opt-in.

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The mFIT Challenge is implemented by Sensis under contract with NIST PSCR. This website is not owned or operated by the Government. All content, data, and information included on or collected by this site is created, managed, and owned by parties other than the Government.