Tonbo Imaging had its humble origins in 2008 after it was formed by Arvind Lakshmikumar who is an alumnus of BITS and Carnegie Mellon University. Tonbo Imaging provides a complete lineup of products which can address critical woes of Indian Armed Forces, Central Armed Police Forces and other forces when it comes to possessing Top-Tier Military Hardware like Night Vision Device, Surveillance Hardware and more. In my own personal view regarding this, Tonbo Imaging has the greatest potential among any other Indian Defence Startups since it is offering its cutting-edge Night Vision and Surveillance Technologies to Indian Armed Forces. It has not only proved its mettle regarding this but has also won Domestic and International Orders from Armed Forces to supply weapon optics and more.
Tonbo basically relies on two of its technology from which other products have been derived: MAYA ( Multisensory Imaging Core ) and HAWKVISION ( Thermal Imaging Core ). Tonbo has heavily utilized the usage of Computer Vision as well as Machine Learning to improve imaging qualities of its products, while at the same time keeping a check on the costs associated. Tonbo has arisen from its humble origins to getting funding from Artiman Ventures and then expanding its base to other countries like Poland and Greece also. Tonbo has also received $17 million in series B financing from other companies last year like Edelweiss and Qualcomm.
How can it address critical woes of India?
Indian Armed Forces have always lagged behind other countries when it comes to optic technology, due to less efficiency of PSUs like BEL , due to which majority of the Night Vision Devices, Indian Forces use are Second Generation Goggles ( PNVG 102A ) which are decades behind what International Market has to offer, and are more of a liability than an asset. The arrival of Tonbo on the scene had its own repercussions. Indian Forces were sceptical of Tonbo’s products and its performance. Tonbo’s efficiency wasn’t realized until the coveted Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of USA became one of its first customers, after they procured some Thermal Imagers from them, making Tonbo the first Non-NATO supplier to US Armed Forces.
Tonbo yet again received a major order of $100 Million from Peruvian army to supply weapon-sights to them. The efficiency of Tonbo’s products was realized by Indian Forces during Bilateral Military Exercises with US Forces and after Pathankot Attack, when Tonbo immediately flew in a shipment of Optics to Indian Forces who were engaging the terrorists.
This was just a head start for Tonbo as Indian Forces soon placed a mega order for Tonbo Optics which has been rapidly inducted into Indian Forces now. These optics include ARJUN Thermal Sight ( Used as Weapon Sight as well as a Helmet-Mounted Sight), EK Thermal Sight ( Used as Weapon Sight), T-REX Surveillance Device ( Used by Indian Army reportedly on LoC), STAGHOUND-TI Thermal Imagers ( Used by National Security Guard ) and more.
Tonbo is also offering other wide range of products to Indian Forces, like panoramic quad-tube night vision goggles (model: BNVD-P) while making strides in Optics Technology like White Phosphor-based lo lux image-intensifying technology.
Indian Army Ghatak Platoon Soldier with a TEAM WENDY EXFIL-Ballistic Helmet with Tonbo ARJUN Thermal Sight.
Tonbo has also been recently given a Certificate of Accord during ‘Night Fire Control System (NFCS) for automatic grenade launcher-30′ during Defence India Startup challenge which shows how Tonbo is levelling up the field, earlier dominated by PSUs, to offer Indian Forces a wide range of Top-Tier and Validated Products. Its customers base now stands at Army, BSF, CRPF, NSG and others in India while it has got customers with US Army Special Operations Units and Peruvian Army.
Tonbo has got a huge potential in India compared to other Defence Startups and with recent orders from National and International Forces. Defence Startups in India are an unseen boon for India Forces as they can give tough competition to PSUs like BEL and DRDO, who have been riddled with lack of quality control in the past and non adherence to schedules , and also offer Indian Forces a wide range of validated and Top-Tier Military Hardware , which is what Indian Forces, on a modernization spree, needs exactly now.
Indian Army Soldier armed with Type 56 Underfolder Assault Rifle with EK Thermal Sight.