Wednesday, August 10, 2022

When it comes to riding hoverboards, it's all in the ankles

A group of people photographed from the waist down balancing on hoverboards.

Engineering researchers have some simple advice for people learning to ride hoverboards: it’s all in the ankles.

An experiment using sophisticated cameras and sensors attached to first-time riders revealed that ankle movements, not knee or hip movements, are the key to catching on to the increasingly popular devices.

“Those who learned faster and performed better had strongly adopted an ankle strategy, meaning that they controlled their ankle motion by activating or co-activating the muscles around them,” said Arash Arami, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo and senior author of a new study.

Hoverboards have a motor and two wheels connected by a platform. Riders steer and balance with their feet, although some models are self-balancing.

While new riders would be wise to concentrate on ankle movement, the study by researchers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan also showed the central nervous system somehow seems to just know the best strategy to use.

After a short familiarization session, volunteers were primarily relying on ankle movements within a few minutes of maneuvering hoverboards back and forth using three different foot positions.

“The process of learning how to ride a hoverboard is largely subconscious,” Arami said. “Interestingly enough, our central nervous system can usually figure it out without much instruction, so take it easy and enjoy the ride.”

Researchers theorize ankle movement is primarily used to learn to ride because they’re the joints closest to the board, primates generally learn better with their hands and feet, and the central nervous system often tries to minimize muscular effort.

The researchers used hoverboards as a tool to investigate how the central nervous system, including the neural networks in the brain and spinal cord, controls human movement. 

The results have implications for the design of platforms for balance training for older adults at risk of falls and stroke survivors in rehabilitation clinics. They could also help with the design of hoverboards and similar devices, such as snowboards.

Researchers are ultimately interested in using technology to develop assistive and rehabilitative robotics systems to allow people with impairments to regain movement.

“Hoverboards, as simple as they appear, help us dig into how we control our lower limbs and deepen our understanding of human motor control,” Arami said.

Arami and Mohammad Shushtari, lead author and a PhD candidate at Waterloo, collaborated with engineers at NTT Communication Science Laboratories in Japan and the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in the UK.

A paper about their work, Balance strategy in hoverboard control, appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

Q and A with the experts: Canada's rising inflation

Professor Jean-Paul Lam.Inflation in Canada is at the highest rate we've seen in decades. Jean-Paul Lam, a professor in the University of Waterloo's Department of Economics and former assistant chief economist and principal researcher at the Bank of Canada, says recent events created a perfect storm for inflation. 

How is inflation measured?

Inflation is measured monthly by Statistics Canada (StatCan). StatCan collects prices from establishments in Canada of goods and services. The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, is a basket of goods and services that is representative of the household expenditure of Canadians. It is divided into eight major components, things like food, shelter, transportation, and clothing. StatCan surveys these establishments monthly and looks at how prices have changed compared to the same period the previous year.

Why has Canada's inflation been rising? 

The government responded very quickly and decisively to this enormous shock of COVID by providing Canadians with a lot of cash in Canada Emergency Response Benefit and wage subsidies. These programs were meant to support consumption and investment in the economy. Many governments worldwide implemented those programs to ensure that their economies would not collapse. And that was the right measure to do at the time. So, this increased the spending and purchasing power of Canadians because we had lots of cash, despite the severe economic slowdown. We diverted a lot of this extra cash to the purchase of goods. And what happened at the time was a lot of factories were being shut down, and a lot of workers were unable to go to work. So, the supply of goods suffered tremendously during COVID. Also, now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where this has put enormous pressure on the supply of food and energy. So, you had this perfect storm of large increases in demand for goods, but at the same time significant decline in the supply of goods, which resulted in the inflation we are seeing now. 

Who's hit hardest when inflation is so high?

Inflation usually hits the lowest-income group the hardest, and that's because they spend a higher proportion of their income on food, shelter, and transportation. And those are the three components right now that are growing at the fastest rate. 

How do we get out of this?

I think the central banks around the world, including the Bank of Canada, have done what they should be doing, which is raising interest rates significantly to get inflation down. What these increases in interest rate do is reduce consumption because it makes consumption more expensive. The other way, obviously, we need governments to be prudent in their spending.

How long will this last?

We've learned a lot from the 1970s and the 1980s about how inflation could be managed. Inflation is temporary. It's not going to be the same inflation we've seen in the past. It's going to be painful for the next 12 to 16 months. But eventually, it will go away. Fundamentally, the economy is strong. That might change, but right now, the economy is fairly strong.

Listen to Jean-Paul Lam on the Beyond the Bulletin podcast

Jean-Paul Lam is an associate professor in the Economics department whose research focuses on macroeconomics and monetary economics.

A look back at the International Health Promoting Campuses symposium

A world map with pin icons placed all over it.

A message from the Wellness Collaborative.

The International Health Promoting Campuses Symposium, held on May 12, 2022, was a one-day event that aimed to activate the Okanagan charter on higher education campuses around the world. The Okanagan charter was an outcome of the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, which called on higher education settings to embed health into all aspects of campus culture, administration and academic mandates, and lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally. Although held virtually, attendees remarked on an acute sense of global community striving for the same vision: improving the health of our campuses and revitalizing the lived experiences of our students.

The opening keynote was delivered by Dr. Shannon Waters, an Indigenous public health physician in Canada. Dr. Waters’ presentation spoke about the link between body and environment, working as an ecosystem to improving health. Dr. Waters related this work to the campus ecosystem, emphasizing the remarkable interconnectedness between the health of a campus and the subsequent positive outcomes of students and the greater community. The audience was also greeted by leaders of national health promoting campuses networks, including from across the world from Dr. Christine Stock in Germany, Ana Martinez-Pérez from the Ibero America network to Dr. Rajiv Yeravdekar from India and Melissa Potwarka from University of Waterloo representing Canada.

Attendees of the symposium came from a diverse range of backgrounds, from academics to management, students, educators, student support service providers, researchers, and executive members of universities and colleges around the world who are interested in advancement of health promotion and public health, well-being, equity, and sustainability within campuses. From a true international panel of experts, presentations illustrated the activation of the Okanagan charter in a diverse range of campus settings. Breakout rooms allowed for smaller discussions to share knowledge of how to apply the Okanagan charter locally and workshop strategic implementation of health promotion processes in higher education. These breakout rooms provided the opportunity to truly collaborate with others who are committed to strengthening student voices and engagement, centering the lived experiences, and addressing social determinants of health and health equity.

With a strong focus on student involvement, Veronica Nhio-son, an undergrad student at Waterloo and member of the Wellness Collaborative, shared highlights of the day from global leaders, including the collective understanding of how deep wellness runs, critical discussions of eco-grief, and the importance of taking a step back to listen to Indigenous people. Other members of Waterloo’s Wellness Collaborative, including Savanah Seaton, Ashley Ryan and Jennifer McCorriston, narrated their journey working on the Okanagan Charter and the challenges involved in taking a whole-systems approach to wellbeing in higher education. Professors at UWaterloo shared how they are mobilizing the priorities of the Wellness Collaborative; some spoke of changes to syllabus to be more wellness focused, while others discussed the efforts made to be more accessible to their students, such as extending office hours. Other student attendees from Waterloo chimed in with their role in promoting campus wellness, with involvement in equity and Anti-racism groups on campus.

After an exciting day of presentations and vigorous discussion, the ending keynote was delivered by Sione Tu’itahi, Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand and Chairperson of IUHPE Global Working Group on Waiora Planetary Health and Human Wellbeing. In this keynote, the vision of the Okanagan Charter was driven home: “Together, we can transform the health and sustainability of our current and future societies, strengthen communities and contribute to the wellbeing of people, places and the planet.”

To read more about the event from a student’s perspective, follow the link:

Link of the day

Issey Miyake, 1938-2022

When and Where to get support

Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, immigration consulting, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

Instructors looking for targeted support for developing online components for blended learning courses, transitioning remote to fully online courses, revising current online courses, and more please visit Agile Development | Centre for Extended Learning | University of Waterloo (

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment.

Course templates are available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly.

The following workshops, webinars, and events are offered by the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Supports are available for employees returning to campus. Visit IST’s Hybrid Work and Technology guidelines and workplace protocols to assist with the transition.

The Writing and Communication Centre has in-person and virtual services to support grad and undergrad students, postdocs and faculty with any writing or communication project. Services include one-to-one appointmentsdrop-ins at Dana Porter Libraryonline workshopswriting groupsEnglish conversation practice, and custom in-class workshops.  

Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

The Centre for Career Action (CCA) has services and programs to support undergrads, grad students, postdocs, alumni, and employees in figuring out what they value, what they’re good at, and how to access meaningful work, co-op, volunteer, or graduate/professional school opportunities. Questions about CCA's services? Live chat, call 519-888-4047, or stop by our front desk in the Tatham Centre 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Drop-in to Warrior Virtual Study Halls on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Come together in this virtual space to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

Renison's English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

The Library is open with expanded hours for access to book stacks, drop-in individual study space, bookable group study rooms, drop-in access to computers and printers, book pick-up services and IST Help Desk support. Librarian consultations, Special Collections & Archives and the Geospatial Centre are available by appointment. Full details on current services and hours are available on the Library’s COVID-19 Update webpage.

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) supports all members of the University of Waterloo campus community who have experienced, or been impacted, by sexual violence. This includes all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the main campus, the satellite campuses, and at the affiliated and federated Waterloo Institutes and Colleges. For support, email: or visit the SVPRO website.

The Office of Indigenous Relations is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the University's Indigenization strategy.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at St. Paul’s University College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

WUSA supports for students:

Peer support - MATESGlow CentreRAISEWomen’s Centre - Click on one of the links to book an appointment either in person or online for the term.

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk 24/7 in the Student Life Centre. Drop-off locations are also open again in SLC, DC, DP, SCH, and all residences.

Co-op Connection all available online. 

Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at

WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-833-628-5589.

GSA-UW supports for graduate students: 

The Graduate Student Association (GSA-UW) supports students’ academic and social experience and promotes their well-being.

Advising and Support - The GSA advises graduate students experiencing challenges and can help with navigating university policies & filing a grievance, appeal, or petition.

Mental Health covered by the Health Plan - The GSA Health Plan now has an 80 per cent coverage rate (up to $800/year) for Mental Health Practitioners. Your plan includes coverage for psychologists, registered social workers, psychotherapists, and clinical counselors.

Dental Care - The GSA Dental Plan covers 60 to 70 per cent of your dental costs and by visiting dental professionals who are members of the Studentcare Networks, you can receive an additional 20 to 30 per cent coverage.

Student Legal Protection Program - Your GSA fees give you access to unlimited legal advice, accessible via a toll-free helpline: +1-833-202-4571. This advice covers topics including housing disputes, employment disputes, and disputes with an academic institution.

The Graduate House: Open Monday to Tuesday 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. We’re open to all students, faculty, staff, and community members. The Graduate House is a community space run by the GSA-UW. We’re adding new items to the menu. Graduate students who paid their fees can get discounts and free coffee.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle. Join our “Waterloo Warriors” team on the website or app. #ItsInYouToGive

Warriors Youth Summer Day Camps, July 4 to September 2. Open to boys and girls age 5-18. Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Multi-Sport and Games & Volleyball. Register today.

FLIGHT Virtual Summer Camp, Tuesday, August 2 to August 13. FLIGHT virtual summer camp provides a strong introduction to tech entrepreneurship to girls aged 13-18 who self-identify as Black or another underrepresented minority.

2022 Global Summit: Nanotechnology for a Healthier and Sustainable Future, Wednesday, August 10 and Thursday, August 11.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable on the UWaterloo Talent Acquisition System (iCIMS):

  • Job ID# 2022-8668 - Senior Director, Institutional & Strategic Priorities - Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism Office (EDI-RO), USG 14
  • Job ID# 2022-8670 - Director of Anti-Racism - Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism (EDI-RO), USG 13
  • Job ID# 2022-8671 - Associate Director, Anti-Racism (Policy & Programs) - Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism (EDI-R), USG 12
  • Job ID# 2022-8784 - Counsellor - 2SLGBTQ+ Student Support - Campus Wellness, USG 10 – 13
  • Job ID# 2022-8905 - Information Technology Specialist - Oat Developer - Computer Science Computer Facilities , USG 11 – 13
  • Job ID# 2022-8947 - Category Specialist (Apparel and Technology) - Print + Retail Solutions, USG 6
  • Job ID# 2022-8950 - Communications Project Manager – Wellness - UWaterloolife, Associate Provost Students, USG 8
  • Job ID# 2022-8865 - Communications Officer - School of Pharmacy, USG 8
  • Job ID# 2022-8936 - Student Advisor (Toronto East) - CEE - Co-operative Education, USG 8 – 9
  • Job ID# 2022-8991 - Business Systems Analyst - Co-operative and Experiential Education Business Services, USG 10
  • Job ID# 2022-9021 - Administrative Coordinator, Patient Care Rotations - School of Pharmacy, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2022-8380 - Library Information Technology Specialist/Developer – Library, USG 9 – 11
  • Job ID# 2022-8920 - Graduate Studies Coordinator, MAcc - School of Accounting and Finance, USG 6
  • Job ID# 2022-8981 - Learning Services Coordinator - Centre for Extended Learning, USG 5 – 6
  • Job ID# 2022-8983 - Administrative Assistant - School of Accounting and Finance, USG 6
  • Job ID# 2022-8989 - Admissions Coordinator - Registrar's Office – Admissions, USG 5 – 7
  • Job ID# 2022-8999 - Client Support Specialist – Library, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2022-9003 - Collections Maintenance Project Coordinator – Library, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2022-8824 - Lab Instructor - Chemical Engineering, USG 9 – 12
  • Job ID# 2022-8927 - Research Finance Coordinator - Institute for Quantum Computing, USG 7

Secondments/Internal temporary opportunities

  • Job ID# 2022-8974 - International Student Experience Coordinator - Student Success Office, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2022-9000 - Research Partnerships Officer - Math Innovation Office, USG 10
  • Job ID# 2022-8977 - Client Support Specialist (Teams Live Events Coordinator) – IST, USG 8
  • Job ID# 2022-8987 - Network Technician – IST, USG 6 – 8
  • Job ID# 2022-8877 - Faculty Financial Accountant - Office of the Dean of Engineering, USG 10
  • Job ID# 2022-8967 - Customer Service Representative - Parking Services, USG 4
  • Job ID# 2022-9001 - Research Coordinator - Office of Research, USG 8

Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo opportunities