Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo partnered with the Discovery Channel to educate the public about sharks — one of the ocean’s most amazing and often misunderstood creatures. The Discovery Channel Shark Week exhibit transports visitors into the incredible world of sharks using innovative digital signage that both educates and entertains.
Nominating Company: BrightSign, Los Gatos, California
Venue: Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Project: Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Category: Immersive Environments
The aquarium created something unprecedented — an interactive experience using digital signage to safely immerse visitors in a shark habitat. The exhibit includes two primary elements:
Visitors first enter a virtual shark cage, with dozens of vertically tiled displays that create the illusion of stepping “inside” the shark cage. Visitors are surrounded on all sides by screens displaying brilliant 4K video of sharks circling around them. Touch-activated kiosks invite visitors to trigger content that provides additional background information about various shark species.
Visitors then enter a demi-tunnel tank filled with live inhabitants that swim past (and above) them. A video wall installed behind the tank creates the illusion that virtual sharks are swimming amongst the aquarium’s live fish. As with the shark cage, visitors can interact with touchscreen displays that educate about the aquarium’s ocean conservation efforts, and even select different shark species to display on the video wall.
This impressive exhibit did not come without its share of challenges. Chief among them were the following:
Accelerated Timeline: The project timeline was limited to just eight weeks, and installation crews could only work at the venue during off-hours, from midnight until 8 a.m.
Flawless Synchronization: To deliver a convincing visitor experience, dozens of displays had to synchronize to create a life-like experience. Even the slightest latency would have rendered the exhibit less believable.
Interactive Education: The aquarium wanted to use the Shark Week exhibit to educate visitors about one of the ocean’s most misunderstood creatures and inform visitors about the aquarium’s ocean conservation efforts.
Seamless Integration: The displays needed to integrate seamlessly with the aquarium’s existing enclosures. It was important to construct the cage, video wall and individual display kiosks such that the digital media complemented the live exhibits. Continuity across all exhibit components was key to the overall visitor experience.
• DigiComm’s crew worked overnight for eight weeks, completing the project on time.
• 42 BrightSign players deliver content to 90 displays in the shark cage, demi-tunnel and interactive kiosks.
• Players are networked via BrightSign Network, with BrightSign’s BrightWall™ enabling perfect synchronization across 90 displays.
• Kiosks house 22-inch LG displays; motion sensors trigger content fed by BrightSign’s LS422 players; kiosks play “children’s shark facts” to educate young visitors.
• BrightSign’s HD222 players provide interactivity via buttons connected on the GPIO interface; visitors trigger content specific to their areas of Interest.
• BrightSign 4K players drive 48 55-incll LG screens; narrow bezels sandwiched together appear as if they are tile bars that make up the cage.
• Custom scripts for luma-key masking allow graphics/videos to display through transparencies in the video window.
• BrightSign HD222 players feed Casio lamp-free projectors mounted above the cage, projecting on the cage’s roof.
The Shark Week exhibit officially opened in July 2016 to a huge media audience. The PR coverage for this event was potentially one of tile most impactful for an aquarium event since 2008. As a result, the aquarium has seen a notable increase in foot traffic, with many people specifically looking for this attraction. Other results of the development include improved guest satisfaction and perceived value for money.