With Cutting-Edge Night Vision Hardware, Tonbo Eyes India’s Global Tech Future

Author: Swapna Gupta, Sr. Investment Manager for Qualcomm Ventures India

At Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, we get excited by technology that disrupts large, underserved industries. Which is why we’re always on the lookout for innovative ideas that have the potential to take on global markets. In India, we’ve found that thermal imaging is one such area that is ripe for transformation, and, we believe, Tonbo Imaging is leading the way.

Based in Koramangala, India, Tonbo is a premier designer and manufacturer of advanced night vision imaging systems for defense, surveillance, and transportation safety markets. Tonbo’s technology augments front-end optics with computational techniques to build advanced imaging systems. It’s hardware has far-reaching impact on the long wave infrared spectrum, where the cost per pixel of detector material increases exponentially with resolution. Taking advantage of the computational power of the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor and optimum cost-per-watt advantage, Tonbo has been able to build high performance, industry leading thermal imagers that have enabled them to disrupt the global military electro-optics system.

When evaluating potential investments in the enterprise hardware sector, we have found that winners in this sector typically sit at the cusp of two intersecting levers: the ability to extend their product portfolio as well as having thought leadership towards growing the platform. Tonbo has found success in both.

Swapna Gupta with Tonbo team & co-invetsor Gnai from Walden

The company first started with infrared cameras and has, over time, built a robust product portfolio suite across night vision, thermal imaging, and long-range surveillance systems. Since then, it has leveraged its technology to expand into allied commercial areas like automotive, drones, and industrial surveillance.

We have known Tonbo founder Arvind and his team since 2012, and have kept a close eye on them since. We’ve been continually impressed by the team’s technical acumen in world-class optic designs, computer vision and multi-sensor fusion technologies, as well as their mission to build a global company based in India.

We think Tonbo is at the right place and right time in the burgeoning hardware market taking place in India. Decreased development costs, shorter times to market, and a shift in hardware business models away from commoditized electronics to recurring revenue and software services are boding well for this segment. In addition, Tonbo has have been able to build systems that outperform existing technology in size, weight, power, and cost — all the key parameters that position a hardware company for continued success.

We are excited about our investment in Tonbo Imaging and plan to support the company as they continue to scale their business and help them establish their leadership position in advanced imaging systems. We look forward to seeing what they will achieve in what we believe will be their very bright future.


Swapna is a Sr. Investment Manager at Qualcomm Ventures and is based in Bengaluru, India. Swapna has extensive experience in the Mobile space across operational and advisory roles. Learn more here.

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