Northeastern University’s virtual reality lab targeted in mailbomb attack

Image: Jess TR/Flickr

Law enforcement officials are investigating an apparent mailbomb attack on Northeastern University’s virtual reality center after a mailroom worker was injured in an explosion Tuesday night. Authorities say the package was sent in a hard plastic case and triggered to explode upon opening.

The attack appears to be politically motivated by fear of VR technology, as it was accompanied by a rambling memo attacking Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and broader academic research on augmented reality devices, per CNN.

The employee, who works at the VR centre, suffered lacerations to his hands but was not seriously injured.

Northeastern University is home to a number of VR-oriented facilities, including an Immersive Media Labs suite that “includes technologies for designing, developing, and exploring virtual worlds, AR/VR/XR, and 360 video.” A separate student organization provides students with free access to VR hardware.

According to police reports, the package exploded shortly after 7 p.m. ET. University Font declared the scene “contained” just before 10 p.m. The suspect remains at large.

Talk to Newsweek, a UK-based counterterrorism expert noted similarities to the Unabomber attacks, which killed three people and injured dozens more over 17 years. Notably, the attacks were carried out with mailbombs and motivated by a paranoid fear of technology.

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