top of page

Slow Wick Balloon Detection for Grupo Éxito

Medellín, Colombia - January 2023


At Antac, we are passionate about tackling highly complex technical challenges. When Grupo Éxito presented us with the task of creating an early detection and alert system for slow-fuse hot air balloons, we eagerly accepted.

In Medellín, dawn marks the start of Christmas and the year-end season. From November 30 until the first days of January, Christmas celebrations are accompanied by the launching of wick balloons. This tradition, rooted in year-end festivities, has unfortunately caused fires and tragedies when these balloons fall onto roofs or vegetation.

To address this issue, we began designing a support system based on video analytics for the detection and tracking of these balloons since the end of last year. The system relies on two cameras from our partner Hikvision: a Panovu camera and a Fisheye. The Panovu contains four 5-megapixel cameras in a single mount, while the Fisheye generates a 12-megapixel 360° view, providing a total of 32 megapixels of data.

Detection System

Algorithms in the video analytics system were specifically designed to detect balloons both day and night. This was no easy feat, as popular techniques like Deep Learning are not applicable due to the small size of the balloons. Instead, we turned to classic computer vision and image processing techniques. It's crucial that the system remains robust against common disturbances such as gray clouds, airplanes, stars, rain, and more.

Tracking and Association

To estimate the position and speed of each balloon, tracking algorithms were implemented. Given the potential for more than 200 balloons on peak days, the tracking and association algorithm needed to be lightweight for real-time operation according to the camera's speed.


Processing and decoding video from five high-resolution cameras, passing it through the analytics system, and displaying it in our interface with annotations is no easy task. Especially considering the system must be deployed on a conventional computer rather than a server. At Antac, we leverage the technology of our partner Intel, designing all our algorithms to run optimally and efficiently on Intel CPUs and GPUs. In this case, the system is deployed on a Lenovo computer with 12th-generation Intel processors.


We take pride in deploying this initial technical approach to a complex problem. We see this as the first step toward a technological solution that prevents accidents and fires caused by wick balloons. Our immense thanks to Grupo Éxito and its Resource Protection team for believing in our technology and being a technological partner throughout the design and iteration process of solutions. Thanks also to all the people and companies involved in this project, such as Miro Seguridad and Hikvision Colombia.

If you have a video or image analysis project, feel free to contact us

bottom of page