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BrightSign drives first interactive digital shark cage

BrightSign and Dubai-based integrator DigiComm have completed a new Shark Week exhibit at Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which combines digital technology with a living aquarium to create interactive experiences for visitors.

The experiences, created by DigiComm alongside Emaar Entertainment and Discovery Consumer Products, utilises around 90 LG screens, driven by 42 BrightSign media players.

Paul Hamilton, general manager and curator of Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, explained: “At Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, we’re passionate about educating the public on these incredible and often misunderstood creatures. The ‘Discovery Channel Shark Week’ exhibit invites visitors into the incredible world of sharks in a truly innovative way that both educates and entertains.”

At the front of the exhibit, 28 55in LG screens driven by seven BrightSign 4K players with tiled outputs feature a scene showing Great White sharks circling a cage of divers. There are also three LG 86in stretch 4K displays with a resolution of 3840 x 600 pixels on entry and exit. Entering the exhibit, visitors walk straight into the world’s first interactive digital shark cage with Great Whites swimming around them. “The visitor becomes the diver ­ they experience the excitement of diving with real sharks in a cage,” said Abdul Bakhrani, CEO, DigiComm, who created the exhibit.

The ‘cage’ consists of 48 55in LG screens again driven by tiled BrightSign 4K players. Situated under the hull of a research ship protruding from the wall of the aquarium, the digital cage was designed exclusively by DigiComm for the exhibit.

Innovative technology allows guests to ‘interact’ with the sharks while simultaneously learning about their biology. DigiComm used the luma key masking feature from the BrightSign players, allowing graphics and other videos to display through transparencies in the video window. Visitors in the cage can use buttons to select additional video, which plays on top of the main looping presentation. These videos explain, for example, how the shark’s senses work. The buttons control the players directly using the UDP inputs. The roof of the cage is a translucent material, on which projectors powered by BrightSign display images of shark bellies to complete the visitor’s experience.

Elsewhere, there is a 20m aquarium demi-tunnel, with the back wall of the tank formed of LG LED screens. The real fish swimming in front are apparently of one piece with the graphical images of sharks on the screen behind. Using touch screens interfacing directly to the BrightSign players driving the screens, guests can select which shark species they would like to see swimming on the LED screens in the background. Educational interactive information panels enable a better understanding of the incredible animals. The tunnel is based on two 7m x 3m and one 3m x 3m 4mm pixel pitch LG LED displays driven by three BrightSign XD232 players.

“The sharks inside the exhibit represent the 100 million sharks that are finned every year. This is a practice that we need to stop. We hope this exhibit delivers that message,” said Paul Hamilton, general manager and curator of Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Finally younger visitors are offered five portrait screens with fun shark facts. Each one is a two-minute clip delivered by BrightSign players, controlled by a motion sensor driven by the young visitor.

DigiComm took the shark cage and demi-tunnel concept from a pencil drawing and were responsible for the concept, design and implementation. Abdul Bakhrani added: “We always specify BrightSign players, especially for very large showcase installations, because of their stability and the fantastic support we receive from the BrightSign team. One feature in particular, the video overlays, was the world’s first on BrightSign players. The players are frequently used to deliver text or static image based overlays. To provide video in this form, we worked with the BrightSign team in Cambridge to create a script. These overlays are an essential part of the experience, as they help to add a strong educational element to an exciting encounter.”

BrightSign digital signage media players