There really is such a thing as ‘too close to real’

In computer graphics, the uncanny valley describes the problem of user discomfort as the appearance of an item becomes very close – but not quite close enough – to the real thing. It’s discussed in great detail on Wikipedia

When applied to people in movies and TV, the computer-generated person causes a feeling of unease or even fear. Instead of looking at everything that the creators have been able to get right, the brain instead starts to concentrate on all the things that are wrong with the image.

Our research shows that the same effect is also present when making 3D representations of your plant.

A photo-realistic version of your plant is great for training and induction. However, we’ve found that the more familiar your staff are with the real equipment and real environment of your plant, the more they will feel the effects of the uncanny valley when they use your system. They may even come to dislike it because of insignificant, cosmetic flaws.

For this reason, we suggest that…

* Photo-realism is ideal for training systems, or others simulations designed for staff who are not already familiar with the job.

* When being designed for use by users who are already familiar with the site and equipment, it is better to show a somewhat stylised, less photo-realistic version of your equipment.