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This paper presents a comprehensive study of post-mortem human iris recognition carried out for 1200 near-infrared and 1787 visible-light samples collected from 37 deceased individuals kept in mortuary conditions. We used four independent iris recognition methods (three commercial and one academic) to analyze genuine and impostor comparison scores and check the dynamics of iris quality decay over a period of up to 814 h after death. This study shows that post-mortem iris recognition may be close-to-perfect approximately 5-7 h after death and occasionally is still viable even 21 days after death. These conclusions contradict the statements present in the past literature that the iris is unusable as a biometrics shortly after death, and show that the dynamics of post-mortem changes to the iris that are important for biometric identification are more moderate than previously hypothesized. This paper contains a thorough medical commentary that helps to understand which post-mortem metamorphoses of the eye may impact the performance of automatic iris recognition. An important finding is that false-match probability is higher when live iris images are compared with post-mortem samples than when only live samples are used in comparisons. This paper conforms to reproducible research and the database used in this study is made publicly available to facilitate research on post-mortem iris recognition. To the best of our knowledge, this paper offers the most comprehensive evaluation of post-mortem iris recognition and the largest database of post-mortem iris images.
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