Digital locks can do things like track who's visiting your house or send a virtual "key" to a friend, but a newly announced startup called Breather might have found the best use yet: offering short-term room rentals to people looking for a quick place to relax. Breather, described as a "Zipcar for rooms" during a launch event covered by VentureBeat, lets users register and then reserve rooms for anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day.
The rooms will be scattered across major cities and reviewed by Breather; each one will include a desk, couch, Wi-Fi, and power outlets among other things. Once someone rents a room, they'll be able to unlock it using their smartphone for the duration of the stay, using technology from Lockitron and possibly other electronic lock companies.
Breather will start rolling out service in the next few months by invitation only. VentureBeat reports that it will first launch in New York City. While New York may be the poster child for the kind of crowded, hectic place Breather hopes to target, it's also a risky proposition for short-term rental startups. Airbnb, for example, is considered an illegal hotel in the city; it's currently fighting a $2,400 fine levied against one of its hosts. We're also not sure how much Breather will cost. According to VentureBeat, it will offer both no-commitment and subscription-based plans, and the site promises a "small, reasonable fee" for each rental.