Toyoda Gosei and EBM Corporation in Japan developed a prototype “Super BEAT” surgical training simulator that can reproduce a heart beating with extreme accuracy – it’s an artificial muscle that uses e-rubber, a next-generation rubber that functions with electricity and mechanical force.

EBM is a Waseda University-launched startup (established in 2006) involved in training simulator development and system creation for both domestic Japanese and overseas markets, principally in the field of cardiac surgery. EBM wants to help standardize surgical technique training internationally – right now, two of its main products, the BEAT and YOUCAN coronary bypass surgical training simulators, are used in about 70 percent of cardiovascular surgery hospitals in Japan and are also sold in the United States, Europe and Asian countries.

Toyoda Gosei is a leading specialty manufacturer of rubber and plastic automotive parts and is developing the new e-rubber material for commercialization as soft actuators and soft sensors, with support from New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization in Japan. Using a supramolecular material (Slide Ring Material), it achieves a performance with high durability and low hysteresis loss that is difficult with conventional dielectric actuators.

In EBM’s BEAT simulator, the movement of the heart is simulated with the use of a shape-memory alloy that expands and contracts by heating and recovers its original shape when cool. The Super BEAT version of this simulator uses e-Rubber, which expands and contracts rapidly in response to electricity switching on and off. Regulation of fine movement is also possible to mimic states such as complex heartbeat patterns due to arrhythmia or the rapid heartbeat of children, allowing reproduction of an environment closer to that of actual surgery. The two companies began collaborating in November 2017 and plan to begin sales of Super BEAT in the fall of 2019.