The Mobile Ident III (MI3) is a multi-biometric handheld fingerprint identification device developed by 3M Cogent, intended for use in military, law enforcement, and civil government applications. It is designed to facilitate remote subject identification, disaster scene management, ID document authentication, and traffic citation, among other uses. It was launched on the market in 2009 and had an MSRP of about $2,790.

The device is capable of capturing forensic-quality fingerprints and high-resolution portraits. With its flexible modular attachments, the Mobile Ident III can support multiple forms of card interfaces, including Mag-stripe, contact, and contactless. Additionally, the device can be equipped with a USB barcode scanner and a 3-inch thermal printer module.

The Mobile Ident III is capable of storing up to 300,000 fingerprint templates and possesses on-device fingerprint matching capability. The on-board MobileID software packages fingerprints and photos into a NIST file, which is then submitted to a back-end matching system over a LAN or WAN network. The software also provides users with a variety of tools for viewing, identifying, and saving records, allowing for one-to-one comparisons of existing biometric records to verify identity.


As always, I have gathered all the specs from different sources and match it with the real hardware configuration.

Item Description
Dimensions 7.8" x 3.5" x 2.5" (198.1 mm x 88.9 mm x 63.5 mm)
Weight 0.64 kg
Operating Temperature 0 °C to 50 °C
Display 3.5" NEC NL2432HC22-41B Color QVGA Touch Screen / 240 x 320 Pixels / 200 cd/m² / 1:150 Contrast Ratio
CPU Intel/Marvell XScale® PXA310 [88AP310-BGK2] (Monahans) (624MHz, 32-Bit-ARM-v5TE, BGA-416)
Keypad Expanded QWERTY with Backlight
Memory 128 MB SAMSUNG K9F1G08R0B-JIB0 FBGA SDRAM / 128 MB Micron FBGA Flash
Expansion Slot 8 GB (Standard) / 16 GB MicroSD [were missing in my units]
Battery Li-Ion Battery 3.7V, 4400 mAh, 8 hours continuous operation, hot swappable, rechargeable
I/O Interface USB OTG (USB 2.0 Client, USB 1.1 Host)
Fingerprint 1x1", 500 ppi Forensic-Quality Optical Sensor
Face Camera 2 MP, with Barcode Capture Feature
Operating System Windows® Embedded CE 6.0 Pro
Wireless Interfaces GSM/GPRS/EDGE/CDMA EV-DO (3G), GPS, Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth v2.0, NFC (ISO 14443a)



To make the device IP65 compatible, the entire case was not only screwed but also glued. Accordingly, opening the case turned out to be very time-consuming and complicated. It is unlikely that this type of device was developed to be able to swap individual components. In the event of a defect, the entire device will most likely be disposed of.



Operating System

Device Features

Further Investigations

Former Device Owner


Background Story

New York City was since 1998 the only place in the US that required finger-imaging for all food stamp applicants, while statewide cash benefit recipients also had to undergo this process. Finger-imaging was used as a fraud-prevention measure to ensure that applicants are who they claim to be and that individual food stamp recipients don’t claim multiple benefits.

However, technical glitches and administrative errors have resulted in denied or delayed benefits, prompting criticism from advocacy groups.

The fingerprinting was conducted by 3M Cogent under a $28.9 million contract with the state. Applicants received no record of being finger-imaged, leaving them without evidence of compliance, as the company refused to issue receipts as it was not part of the contract.

NYC discontinued the use of finger-imaging for food stamp applicants following a lawsuit that claimed the practice violated the law. The city’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) reached a settlement with advocacy groups that filed the lawsuit, agreeing to end the process by early 2022.

The settlement was reached after a court found that the HRA had violated a state law that prohibits the retention of biometric data. Under the agreement, the HRA is no longer requiring food stamp applicants to undergo finger-imaging, and any existing data was deleted.

Three of the devices used for the verification process were offered for sale on eBay in early 2023. Fortunately, the micro SD cards containing the sensitive personal data were removed before the sale.