Dubai’s Burj Khalifa Adds Cracking Virtual Glass Floor, Driven By Sensors

I always have mixed feelings around visual tricks designed to scare the living sh*t out of some unwitting visitors.

It’s one thing if you are in a theme park or one of those Halloween pop-up places that are billed as scary. But introducing an abrupt scare into something that is, by nature, intimidating is one of those ‘Not sure about that …’ things.

This is a new attraction on the 125th floor of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, in an observation gallery that also has VR experiences. 

Tower’s owners Emaar Properties worked with local system integrator DigiComm on an interactive, realistic simulation of a glass floor above the city that appears to crack when stepped on.

“They wanted something really spectacular and very entertaining,” explains Abdul Bakhrani, CEO of DigiComm, which created the content, media and special effects for the attraction.

Eighteen 55-inch LG OLED 8K-resolution screens under rugged glass are powered by two BrightSign XT1144 expanded I/O players. The screens show a highly realistic visual animation of the city 1,496 feet below, which changes according to the time of day and season, scheduled and controlled by the media players.

There are 15 Nexmosphere sensors connected to an Xperience Controller, which sends data and triggers the media players. When a visitor trips a sensor, a virtual crack starts forming on the skywalk floor and escalates; as they keep walking, the glass is cracking beneath them.

There is synchronized audio producing the sound of the glass cracking beneath the visitor’s feet.

Says Bakhrani: “It took quite a bit of trial and error to get the configuration just right. We ourselves didn’t know how it would work with such large visitor numbers. We were testing the waters, gathering feedback and constantly improving. It took about two weeks of fine-tuning once it was live to perfect it.”

Bakhrani adds most visitors are tourists who come only once to Burj Khalifa. “It’s very realistic. Some people think it’s real and feel frightened.”

So … clever and fun, but probably too much to handle for the faint of heart. Maybe it is clearly billed as a simulation, but you can see the kid at the end of this short video being jarred. Wouldn’t want someone with a wonky ticker on there.