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Sleepbox (sleepbox.com)
279 points by damian2000 on Aug 18, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments

In Japan we have long had 'coffin hotels' (or 'capsule hotels', pre-Neuromancer). We also have love hotels, which are expressly designed to be rented for two hours at a time to do whatever nasty, sticky business you can convince somebody to do with you.

The changing the linens and whatnot are solved problems. (Some businessman-oriented places have a sealed plastic bag of bedclothes hung in the room... you have to do the work of putting them on, but the upside is you know they're clean.)

Getting the price down to where I want to rent one to just take a decent nap during my layover (maybe $25? $40 at most?) is the key thing. As compared to 'my date and I need a space to get intimate for 2 hours' (~$85... okay fine $100... What! ARE YOU SERIOUS $175? THAT'S... OKAY FINE!)

I for one am rooting for them to succeed before my next international connecting flight, though.

The problem is that you can't just implement the Japanese system in the US. The Japanese are much more respectful of other people's/business's property than Americans and are much less likely to be using drugs (and although prostitution is widespread, the prostitute/john won't trash the place). That's why completely automated vending machine-style systems, such as those used by capsule hotels and many love hotels, are feasible in Japan. The success of a similar system in the US will hinge on whether the increased costs from running it in America will keep things profitable.

The best solution I can see at the moment is to accept only credit cards and then charge heavy fines/institute a ban for trashing the place.

Heavy fines get difficult when the buyer can deny the charges. Chargebacks are very expensive for the merchant; not only are there penalty charges on top of the refund ($25 seems to be typical) but credit card processors will refuse to do business with you if you get enough of them.

How about a video camera inside the "box"? Or would that be too invasive for most people? Maybe you could just take "before" and "after" pictures?

I think it would work just as well to have one outside of the box. You'd be able to link a customer's face to their card and to the time that the box was trashed.

But once you have those pictures what do you do? Take them to court?

Would you have to go to court to dispute the chargeback? Couldn't you set up some kind of system to send them to the credit card company if a customer attempts a chargeback, so they can verify that the chargeback is invalid?

It doesn't matter. The chargebacks count against your limit whether you dispute them or not. You must get less than 1% of your monthly gross volume back in chargebacks if you hope to stay in business. If you're above that for several months in a row, 99% of MSPs will terminate your account immediately.

As far as Visa and MasterCard are concerned, if you're generating chargebacks on a regular basis, something is wrong with your business model and you must either correct the business model or stop accepting credit cards as payment for it. It's not a question of whether you were legally owed the money or not; it's about protecting the card brands from whatever negative experience you're creating such that customers feel forced to go to their banks and complain about the charges.

It's very unfortunate that credit card companies are willing/forced to take the side of the consumer even when they're clearly in the wrong. Maybe this will have to be revisited when/if a more impartial payment system becomes common.

Edit: it seems like the endpoint of all this is the banks. If the credit card companies could send the pictures to them, maybe things could be resolved? But I doubt the banks would want to get involved in that. Either way, if I were running a bank, I would take Visa or MasterCard's word over that of any individual customer.

I disagree. The only flaw in the policy of low chargeback limits is that it doesn't discriminate between chargebacks due to stolen cards and chargebacks due to extreme customer dissatisfaction.

If a large percentage of your paying customers are so angry with you that they'll complain to any 3rd party they can find, something is wrong with your business and no other brand should want to be associated with the experience you're creating.

A low chargeback limit makes policies like "bury a $300 cleanup fee in the fine print" non-viable. That kind of thing shouldn't be viable even if it's technically legal. If you find a way to charge a cleanup fee and not surprise and anger customers when doing so, you won't get chargebacks. If you find a way to operate the pods without attracting people that will trash them, you won't get chargebacks.

Speaking to your edit: the banks and credit card companies are not separate entities. There are only the banks. The banks own the card brands, and the card brands are not involved in the chargeback process. You dispute a charge by calling your card-issuing bank. The phone number on the back of your card is your bank's number, not Visa's. Visa does not interact directly with customers. Your bank sends the dispute to the bank underwriting the merchant account, which sends it to the merchant. The merchant presents its evidence to its bank, which forwards it back to the card-issuing bank of the customer for a decision.

In my experience 1% can be too low depending on the size of transactions.

My company charges high monthly subscriptions, and on several occasions we've had people outright lie to credit card companies to get a chargeback. In 3 years of business we've never had a single legitimate chargeback (e.g., fraud, or someone who wasn't satisfied and asked us for a refund that we refused). The few times we have made mistakes in billing, or some other customer satisfaction issue, the customer called us and we initiated a refund.

In my experience the chargebacks increase the more expensive the transaction, i.e., people are more willing to go through the procedure to make $1000 than, $10.

If just one unscrupulous customer attempts to chargeback months worth of fees, it can easily place us over the limit for the month. We had one customer initiate chargebacks going back 6 months. Plus the customers who are likely to use chargeback scams are also likely to spend more than the average customer in the first place. While we've had no where near even 0.1% of customers attempt (7 in 3 years) this--they're have been several months where 1 chargeback brought us near the 1% threshold.

The worst part about chargebacks is how ridiculously stacked it is for the consumer, and they know it. We've even gotten notices to dispute the chargeback that arrived in the mail after the due date.

I've also had friends who sold large ticket items that had thousand of dollars stolen in chargeback scams.

This problem is only going to get worse as more people become aware of how easy chargebacks are for the customer.

>If you find a way to charge a cleanup fee and not surprise and anger customers when doing so, you won't get chargebacks.

Doesn't matter how upfront you are about it. You can make the customer sign a single sheet of paper with "$300 cleanup fee in case of damage" written in 30pt font. If you try to charge a cleanup or damage fee--chances are the customer will initiate a chargeback.

The only customers who are going to get charged a $300 cleanup fee are the customers who don't respect other people's property in the first place--those kinds of people have no problem with illegitimate chargebacks.

> they're have been several months where 1 chargeback brought us near the 1% threshold

With volume so low, it's probably not a real threshold for you. Your processor is looking out for their ratio, since they're answerable to Visa/MC for it. If they've been around a while, they're probably very lenient with such small customers. Your little chargeback won't make a dent in their own rate, so better to keep you around until you might grow to a larger, more profitable business for them. If you still get >1% at a higher volume, THEN you're an actual problem for them.

> we've gotten notices to dispute the chargeback that arrived in the mail after the due date

I have too. It sucks but isn't unusual. You really need to get chargeback notices over the web or fax. MSPs that don't offer a web portal will always be able to fax you the notices, so sign up for one of the online fax services and give them your number. You'll be notified when they get the notice instead of days later when it makes it through the postal system.

> chances are the customer will initiate a chargeback

That was my point. The chargeback limits exist, in part, to discourage business models that create widespread dissatisfaction over the payments. In this instance, they would need to find a better way to deter or handle people messing up the beds than charging a fee to a card on file.

I never said that the cleanup fee should be buried. In fact, this is all hypothetical. By requiring payment by credit card, you'll hopefully eliminate prostitutes, drug users, and homeless people anyway. At that point, if you make the cleanup fee really obvious to customers, it may be feasible.

And I don't know how common chargebacks for unethical purposes are, but neither me nor anyone I know has ever mentioned using a chargeback in a situation where they weren't genuinely scammed.

> By requiring payment by credit card, you'll hopefully eliminate prostitutes, drug users, and homeless people anyway.

I'm not sure there's a way to distinguish a "regular" credit card from a prepaid store-bought "credit" card, which are easily obtained by the undesirables.

Maybe you could try putting a thousand-dollar hold on the card for verification. Car rental could also be a good business to study for inspiration.

It's usually possible to distinguish between a pre-paid credit card and a non-pre-paid card, depends on your software though.

A hold would work much better though -- for example, I don't keep a huge amount of money in my checking account which is what is connected to my debit card, and a $1k hold would fail usually. Mind you I'm in the U.S. where there's not a huge difference between debit/credit cards.

Wonder how that works with companies that I'm sure do get chargebacks a lot, but are huge? Car rental companies come to mind.

How about a video camera inside the "box"?

Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Have a membership system. Membership is free, but must be applied for and can be revoked. That combined with before/after pictures should prevent most abuse.

That was my first thought when looking at the boxes. If they were implemented here in Mexico we would have the problem of the random guy wanting to piss but not wanting to get out of the pre-paid sleepbox.

So, he decides to piss in a corner and continue sleeping until he gets out.

Who is going to clean that?

Actually, Yotel already do this:


I've used the Yotel inside the international transit area at Schiphol for jet lag purposes, during a 5-hour stopover on an intercontinental flight; it beats a recliner in a business lounge into a cocked hat for thouse 4-hour dead spots after a sleepless red-eye. I wish this idea would catch on at more hub airports!

Yotel is indeed great after a long flight. Guarulhos in Sao Paulo also had some semi-capsule accommodation.

Here is a picture from the Schiphol Yotel: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bergie/5818894255/in/photostrea...

I've done the same thing at LHR and agree completely.

There's a Yotel at heathrow? Damn. Wish I'd known that last week :-)

Considering Yo! take a lot of inspiration from Japan for their products, I'm honestly not surprised. Look at Yo! Sushi, for instance.

If you travel through a civilized airport such as Singapore (Changi) then they have a hotel airside (ie no going through immigration) and as a bonus the rooms include bathrooms. It is USD10/hr single and USD12/hr double. There are also budget rooms (shared bathrooms) for half that rate. Oh, and swimming pools, cinemas etc.


Thats pretty cheap. Thanks for the tip !

Most if not all of these places only allow Japanese people in.

Even if the pod is somewhat automated (e.g. linens are somehow changed without human intervention), you're not going to be able to get around the fact that you'll need someone to collect the dirty linens once in a while and replenish.

And really, the tired business executive is the ideal customer ... but you're probably more likely to get a bunch of less-than-ideal customers whose actions inside the pod are going to require a more extensive cleanup.

I have a feeling that even if the company has come up with some innovative ways to address these problems, I'm pretty sure the public perception of the pods will be negative, because you're naturally going to assume that the pods have been occupied by people doing unsavory things. It's going to be perceived as the generally gross Porta-Potty of the accommodations industry.

One of the nice things about hotels and hostels and other places that are staffed 24/7 is that if someone lights up a cigarette in a nonsmoking room, or starts trashing the hotel room, there's someone on hand to address the problem. Here, I can only assume, the pods would only be sporadically monitored.

I think a better solution to problem of tired executives with minimal needs for amenities is in the pod hotels that you can find in the biggest metro areas. They're somewhat similar to these pods in design, but because they're located in hotel structures, they are staffed and the linens are changed, rooms cleaned, etc. by humans:


This is such a software forum!

Why is everyone assuming this is a fully automatic coin operated system?

I read "miniature, ready to go hotel rooms that you can buy, put anywhere you want (inside a building) and figure out how to manage yourself."

Seems to me like it'd be a good way of doing exactly what you have mentioned: a podhotel.

Because that would require people to be PAID to go around, cleaning up the sleepboxes, which may or may not actually be profitable, when you consider the cost of the sleepbox on top of it.

The entire POINT of it is that it's automated enough that you don't have to deal with that crap.

Again, where do you read that automated is the point? I read "space saving" & maybe an implied cheap and/or low maintenance. There is no mention, hint or implication of automated.

Oh c'mon, this is brilliant, and solves a huge pain problem for lots of people (myself included). You don't have to have perfect solutions to edge customer cases in order to be successful (e.g. Zipcar, AirBnB, eBay, etc), and you can always iterate on the solutions.

The airport/station staff can do the daily cleaning and replenishing. Also, they can give you a grace period of 5 mins to reject the pod if there's a problem with it (smoking, unsanitary, etc).

> You don't have to have perfect solutions to edge customer cases and you can always iterate on the solutions.

This isn't a high tech startup. These units would be placed in very public places, so initial impressions would have an enormous impact on their subsequent success (or failure). Imagine the worst things someone could do within one of these units and then ask yourself how you would discretely clean that within a public space.

The previous poster is right: Given their semi-public/semi-private nature and the fact that they include beds, there's no way in the world these units wouldn't be used by mischievous travelers. The media would have a field day with this - and not just the news: TV sitcoms and certain nighttime dramas would be racing to be the first to be the first to include a pod episode.

It's hard to see the units not turn into a running joke that no concourse operator would want to be associated with.

You start by having them only in First class lounges. Then you filter them down through to business class lounges.

The cattle will never see them.

You think that just because someone can buy first class, they aren't the very embodiment of Loki?

What makes you think non-tech startups don't iterate? If anything, I think they're much better at it. With software, we have to work really hard to see people use our products and talk with them. But for most businesses it's pretty easy, and it's that feedback that really drives innovation.

This seems like an easy one to iterate on. You put one box in one airport. You catch every customer as they're coming out (which should be easy as departure will be indicated on booking, and you'll want to go by to clean it anyhow). You ask them what they think.

If initial impressions are somehow terrible, then you solve the problems and set your next one up with different branding in a different airport. Then keep iterating.

Make them a little smaller, and transparent. Like sleeping on a bench, but you're shielded from noise and people bumping into you or taking your stuff.

Yeah but usually people like to sleep in the dark. Good point though.

and they don't like people peering in on them

One-way mirrors!

1. Take a photo (or photos) before.

2. Take a photo afterwards.

3. Use a reputation system.

This could probably go a long way. You're talking about the pod taking a before picture, and then an after picture then using some computer-vision library to decide on positive/negative points for that stay? That could work quite well. Even have a cap to put over the camera lens when you're staying in it (for those tinfoil hat people).

I suppose positive points would mean you get a cheaper stay in another pod, and so on.

I was going even simpler. When the person is finished with the pod, and the door closes and locks, the pod takes a photo. When the next person pays and the just before the door unlocks, it takes another photo.

No computer analysis, no nothing. If there is a complaint or a need to check the photos, someone can. Automation can come later.

Add a reputation system to catch repeat offenders (with proof) and you're done. Cheap and simple.

man, the lack of trust in modern (esp. american) society is just... awful.

alternatively, the lack of communal feeling and shame, that leads people to do things like trashing hotel rooms, is just awful.

A side effect of an increasingly individualistic society, some countries more so than others. I could only really see this working in a highly corporate and controlled environment, like a light rail station in a business district, maybe an airport but only after the security gates.

I'm not sure that's so much a side effect as it is a primary effect.

A pod would actually be much easier to clean than a regular hotel room, because it's smaller. Suppose you had the bedding removed and cleaned in a high temp machine after every use, so all that's left is hard, smooth, easily cleanable surfaces, which you had cleaned with bleach, rinsed, and dried with compressed air. It would be cleaner than a typical hotel room even if the previous occupant did nasty stuff - which they could very well have done in any hotel room.

Smaller doesn't actually imply easier to clean. It's a cramped space with lots of nooks and crannies, and from the looks of it, you couldn't even get a normal sized broom under the bed without hitting the opposite wall.

I hope something like this takes off, mostly because I'd buy one for my apartment.

A few years back I spent many weeks trying to figure out how to purchase and get shipped one of the Japanese capsule hotel units to my apartment. I found a manufacturer (whose website was entirely in Japanese) and eventually was able to figure out that it wasn't really feasible (getting one of the units shipped to the U.S. was a nightmare, and the units are generally meant to be purchased in bulk), which made me sad.

I fully concede that I'm a weirdo, but I've dreamed about sleeping in a little cocoon module for most of my life (I spent a lot of my childhood wishing I was on a submarine, I'm a-ok with enclosed spaces).

Build one! It's not that hard, hardware stores will cut materials for you, and your local hackerspace will help with design and technical stuff. And it will have the extra sweetness of being your own hard work.

I wonder what it would take to turn this into a business, and what the demand would be.

If you're a weirdo then I am one too. I kind of want the sleeping thing from the movie Daredevil (tiny capsule where he sleeps in water so he can hear nothing).

I could build one myself but I always live with people who might treat me like I was insane.

But essentially a completely sound-proof little capsule where you can go in, close the door, set the temperature whatever you wish (18 degrees!), and then sleep without light or sound waking you.

That would kind of be a security problem, you can hear fire alarms or smell smoke.

But I like the idea.

Can't you put a fire alarm inside the capsule?

Building one will be much easier, and much more fun. Start by drawing it up in Sketchup or similar. reddit.com/r/diy will be happy to help I think, if you don't know where to start.

I've dreamed about sleeping in a little cocoon module for most of my life


I prefer the MVP I've been using in airports for years:

  - hoodie
  - ipod with white noise
  - mindfold mask (mindfold.com)
  - inflatable neck pillow
  - backpack with strap wrapped around my arm
  - empty gate of any soon-to-be-bankrupt airline
It's already paid for, it works great (the mindfold is the secret, believe me), it weighs less that a pound, and I can use it on the plane too.

I've slept at airports many times and I can never get a good night's sleep because

- you have no privacy

- it's difficult to get comfortable

- you're always paranoid about somebody taking your stuff

- there's usually a cleaning crew who make a lot of noise and sometimes you have to move your stuff for them

I'd much rather use a sleepbox.

I’d be worried someone would steal my stuff while all my senses were so completely incapacitated.

Do you not fly enough to have lounge access?

You can pay for lounge access, it's usually around $50. But you can get free wifi, eat and drink as much as you want, grab a paper, etc. Makes up for the cost.

Yeah -- the cheapest way if you fly a lot, yet have no status or good credit cards, in many airports, is Priority Pass -- $99/yr + $27/visit. Getting the $99/yr part free from low-tier credit cards is fairly common, too.

Amex Platinum (which, admittedly, is $450/yr) also gets you into a lot of lounges.

Founders Card gets you lounge access through mid-tier airline status on a few airlines (especially useful for Cathay Pacific, my favorite airline in the world).

I'd totally prefer a coach ticket + $50 lounge pass + + nice ipad and iphone and $500 headphones + nicer hotel room, food, car, etc. at destination, to paid first class tickets.

It appears that many airports have gotten rid of lounges, or have super limited hours on them.

I was flying through Philly and almost got stuck there overnight. It looked like my options were to get a ~$150/night hotel that was near the airport (no vouchers available since it was 'weather related' despite no bad weather) or just sleep in the airport.

I had tried asking if there was a way I could get access to the lounge. The answers I got seemed to indicate there either wasn't one, or it wasn't open overnight, or perhaps I just couldn't pay to get access. Unsure. But I wasn't getting in a lounge either way.

Thankfully, I got a flight back to Cleveland instead of CAK because the flight to Cleveland was running 2 hours behind (perfect for me) and I had a coworker pick me up there instead.

The lounges usually close overnight, so they probably wouldn't have helped in this situation.

However, the AmEx Platinum card will let you get into most lounges (if you're flying that airline that day). This easily makes it worth the annual fee for frequent flyers.

Mindfold[1] was a very good suggestion. Great for people airbnbing as well.

[1] http://mindfold.com/

what is so good about it

That works well for you but consider how many business travelers (executives) could easily include a sleepbox as part of their travel requirements.

(Responding mostly because the parent is currently the top-rated comment)

Many travelers undoubtedly fit the parent's description and budget. I don't think it's helpful in this discussion about sleepbox to focus on that. I can certainly see the appeal for people who might be feeling a little more vulnerable (women for example), more willing and able to pay for some extra comfort, or both.

It works until you start snoring and somebody wakes you up to tell you that you're snoring. :P

I saw similar booths in the Munich airport a few years ago, where they were called "NapCab". I had had a rough overnight flight and a messy transfer in Heathrow, a six hour layover in Munich, and of course server problems came up while I was in the air - so a small private room with calm lighting, power, and an internet connection was a godsend.

It worked with a credit card and cost (IIRC) about 15 euros per hour (10 euros/hr in the evening). There was a touch-screen for setting lighting, audio environment, and a wake-up alarm. It also had a bottle opener and a bottle of water. When you're finished, I gather that janitorial staff are notified and the NapCab is cleaned up and restocked for the next person.

Their website doesn't seem to be active anymore, so maybe the company didn't succeed - but here's a not-very-good picture of what mine looked like:


it is still there, sadly only at Terminal 2: http://www.munich-airport.de/en/consumer/aufenthalt_trans/ho...

Good to know they're still there - too bad they haven't expanded much though.

"Sleeping in public causes security, privacy and hygiene issues."

This sounds like a rationalization. For me, the reasons not to sleep in public are that public spaces are designed to discourage it, and cops will wake me up.

Public sleeping should be a right, but if something like Sleepbox becomes common, it will become even harder to sleep without having money.

Hi. I recognized your name. Love this essay: http://ranprieur.com/essays/dropout.html

Are you a technology worker? I've noticed many people with critiques of civilization are into technology.

For me it's definitely about the security of my belongings & personal safety. In certain places personal safety is less of a concern, but belongings are still so easy for someone to walk off with.

You can put those in a locker though

In the US, there are no more lockers in airports post-9/11.

Yes - I think a good locker system is a more feasible solution.

Wow. That's going to wind up to be the filthiest box in NYC. Word will spread among the homeless and drug addicts. Need a quick place to shoot up? There's the Sleepbox. Given the state of public restrooms in NYC, you're also just asking for bodily fluids everywhere. This is not a business in America. It's a money sink and an exercise in frustration. And if you think you can "limit" who uses it, good luck fending off all the lawsuits that will tell you otherwise.

That's why it would be stupid to stick this on a street. In places like airports or offices, where drug addicts are going to be significantly less numerous, something like this makes a lot more sense.

Limiting it to only people with a credit card would be an easy thing to do. It's also a common way to discriminate.

Very true. Plus, the price appears to be a tad out of range for many who might be inclined to trash the place. A back alley would be more cost effective. The drug users who could afford to use the room would probably be discreet about the whole thing and wouldn't cause too much mess.

Plus, if it's airside at an airport, everyone's ID has been checked and a lot of video exists, plus there's a pretty high bar to entry (buying a plane ticket), so the riff-raff is likely not there.

everyone's ID has been checked and a lot of video exists, plus there's a pretty high bar to entry (buying a plane ticket)

Depends they might have it outside security, in the public area. Would make more sense to have it there.

I think you are underestimating the barrier to rental: I imagine the system could require a smart phone or at the very least a credit card to even use it. Sure it's not perfect, but it puts you in a category of problems more akin to Hertz on Demand than NYC restrooms.

> Word will spread among the homeless and drug addicts.

Word will spread that they scan your fingerprints and irises, and link them to unpaid charges. A homeless schizophrenic who enjoys painting with feces merely has to cough uo the $500 clean up fee before his next stay. I.e., lifetime ban.

But who's going to change and wash the sheets? Especially if it's being rented out by the hour. Will there be a full laundry after each and every user?

They could work towards automating it by dispensing fresh sheets for each guest and somehow improving the ease of changing them. (I'm sure there's better ways than changing sheets and covers tediously by hands. I mean a simple thing for example would be to automatically raise the mattress from the base.)

could have sheets made of many very thin skins and remove one for each client.

Maybe it's my experience of living in central London but I can certainly think of many 'demographics' that would be interested in soundproof bedrooms on the street...

Sometimes I really need to be alone to recharge (introverts, anyone??). And it's not possible to do it in a busy place.

There are plenty of times I've been in an airport and would love to just be alone. This would be perfect.

Great discussion, a lot of it centered around the difficulty of the clientele screwing up the place. But there are also a lot of assumptions going in which may not hold.

So if you look at AirBnB, one of its 'features' is that all of the renters and sellers are pre-vetted (and yes this doesn't always work but it keeps problem people in the system low). Look at the 'clear' system for pre-screening air travelers.

This sort of automated sleep spot is vulnerable to being trashed, so one solution is to create a signup process where the clients get some sort of identifying token, a key if you will, that allow them to use units.

The Sleepbox folks have a cool futuristic render but they don't seem to have an actual unit. That is a red flag for me but it only means that I won't invest in one until I see one actually 'in production.'

Resupply and restocking is a challenge too, but only if you want fast turn around and low employment costs. You can hire folks to turn over a unit when someone leaves and just be on site the whole time. Depending on occupancy rate and charges will determine if that is feasible.

So there are lots of variables but I don't see that there are any huge barriers to implementing this sort of scheme but I do wonder if there is a working business model in there somewhere.

Actually, it's already available in Moscow airports: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14514816

Interesting, that is dated from August of last year (1 year ago). In fact there are several articles from that time, here is another one: http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/rent-a-... which has a bit more detail.

But there isn't anything since then. And to me its even stranger that their homepage they don't mention the installation. So my take on that was this was a 'demo' and not a real installation. Can you tell me if there are any being commercially operated ?

as much as i'd like this to be a reality there are some valid concerns on comments here.

Possible ways that this could work:

- Make it subscription based with the regular credit card deposit liability. Any type of damage to the equipment would be accountable to the person who stayed there.

- There would need to be persons responsible for maintaining these units 24 hrs a day. That person could be responsible for units in one space, or an area depending on use frequency. The unit would not be available until serviced after every use.

- Make the unit more transparent. Use tinted glass instead of opaque walls. Tinted enough to block out bright light, but not opaque so that inhabitant(s) are not free to do whatever they want. this is just a more comfortable way to nap/relax and not an actual hotel.

"Single, double and triple Sleepbox units are available at prices starting at EUR 7,000 ($8600). With an average annual income of USD 30,000 per unit, investments pay back in six to nine months, the company says."

From: http://www.springwise.com/lifestyle_leisure/sleepbox-helps-t...

Assuming a 100% load factor, and assuming someone is on hand to change the linen and keep it clean.

Being more realistic, it might be cash-flow positive from the start and turn a profit after the first year, if you put it somewhere popular and get the cleaning/maintenance routine nailed down with decent cost control in place.

I tried "Yotel" in the Gatwick airport, it's a similar idea but it's in a dedicated area.



Was about to mention yotel - I loved my stay in my yotel at gatwick. Stayed in a similar 'tinyroom hotel' in Moscow last year - it wasn't as nice as Yotel.

My only complaint is not really with the concept itself, it's just that I'm generally using these things, I'm nervous I'll sleep too long and miss my flight.

This is not a new idea. http://www.yotel.com seems a direct competitor. Also, in the extreme we have the Japanese http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsule_hotel.

Capsule hotels are not available in Japan airports, as far as I know...

The biggest issue with this is, how do you keep it clean? I wouldn't want to sleep somewhere that wasn't kept clean. Sure you sleep on train seats that are publicly shared with hundreds of different people daily. But here we're talking about actual beds, with pillows and sheets - I wouldn't want to put my face on a pillow that I knew was used previously by someone else without being properly cleaned.

Please: every restaurant install one of these. How many times have I finished a meal and just wanted to lie down for 15 minutes??

You can't wait to drive her home first?

Cool idea, but website needs significant work. For example, the font changes from sans serif to serif mid-page, for no explicable reason.

I'm assuming you'll require a credit card to use, which should cut down on a lot of the unsavory activities people are discussing.

As an architect by training I find it really exciting to see something like this. The business of architecture is an incredible mess. Although I see a lot of big challenges in getting this to work well it's a great way to make a positive intervention in spaces that are often quite negative. Architects think about this kind of stuff all the time, but they rarely implement it.

All that being said these things look really overwrought, made from a strange collection of materials, and seem unlikely to be as clean as they should be. The rounded corners are driving me crazy.

/How interesting... a fellow Cooper architect (and one who appreciates circuits) on HN!

Yeah, that's so architecture 2.0. We've moved on.

Keeping these things clean would be very hard. Perhaps a better target market than single-night-guests is medium-term-guests.

I could see myself renting one of these things for a month in a city I visit on holiday.

If these are a reasonably soundproof, they would be awesome in airports.

This is bigger than my Tokyo apartment.

I've been sleeping in my office a lot lately. My home environment is far too noisy. Now I would love a sleepbox but yes I question two things: hygiene and noise. Hopefully it's well ventilated and there's no bugs but oh how I'd love a showerbox attachment. Also, how well does it isolate noise? Airports are noisy places. Does it isolate low frequency as well? If it does, I'd buy one for my terrible apartment.

They claim: "Design and functional elements are additionally protected by patents, including European patent No 001742719, Russian Federation patent RU2010501345, and US patent (pending)." I did a few minutes searching at the WIPO website because this really does seem like old art, and I was wondering if they simply did design patents. I could not find public documents on either the EP or Russian patents.

It might just work if it's placed in a restricted "member" only area, like in an airport. After passing through security and check-in, the customer base has been vetted and pre-qualified. Travelers usually are relatively well off and well behaved, after passed through security. There're less chance of the place being trashed.

I'm more interested in a portable version.

As am I. The issue is, how much space would the unfolded thing be, how would you ensure it's soundproof, and would you be able to carry it around normally? Presumably it'd be something that expands, maybe self-expanding. It wouldn't exactly be secure (someone would likely be able to cut through it) but it'd be easy enough to make it so if someone does so, it sets off some sort of alarm (to stop people cutting the thing open, and taking your stuff while you're sleeping).

I think the obvious thing would be to integrate it with a backpack (with the backpack itself expandable in size, probably), and have only the bed/matress there (so it's not very tall, even when expanded).)

Kickstarter? :)

Do you have personal experience with those? :)

Many comments seemed concerned about the public perception that these will often be used for sex.

Since this is aimed at business travelers, it shouldn't be too hard to limit it to single occupancy.

Just add some kind of occupancy sensor--weight distribution on the bed maybe--that alerts an employee when it detects more than one person.

That sounds like a completely unwieldy solution. Is an alarm going to go off every time I lift my legs up off the bed? What if I put a heavy suitcase on the bed next to me? Would you want your company to be known for refusing to allow a nursing mother and father to sit next to each other on the bed? What about a parent and a child?

Further, a hotel owner can't just barge in on a tenant. They have to believe someone is doing something illegal, disturbing other tenants or causing damage.

>Is an alarm going to go off every time I lift my legs up off the bed? What if I put a heavy suitcase on the bed next to me?

I think I could write an algorithm to filter out the vast majority of false positives. With enough pressure sensors under the mattress, and maybe passive IR it really shouldn't be too difficult (face recognition with automated deletes and no long term recording or viewing capabilities would probably be easiest, but people would find it creepy). Suitcases don't move the way people do, pressure distribution is different (also who's traveling with 100+ pound suitcases) etc...

Moving your legs shouldn't be too hard to filter out either. Btw if anyone wants to pay me, I'm up for the project ;)

Now that I think about it Volvo made a heartbeat sensor, I think using an acceleration to detect minute vibrations. That could work as well.

>Would you want your company to be known for refusing to allow a nursing mother and father to sit next to each other on the bed? What about a parent and a child?

This is only for single occupancy business travel pods, no room for 2 people, no children allowed.

>Further, a hotel owner can't just barge in on a tenant. They have to believe someone is doing something illegal, disturbing other tenants or causing damage.

That depends on local laws, in many places breaking house rules (having more than one occupant) is enough to allow them to enter.

In any case it doesn't matter, if they have reason to believe you are breaking the rules they can keep knocking on the door until you open up.

This is a great idea if not too expensive and implemented correctly. (Clean and wakes me up for my flight). I was trying to get my fairly liberal school to put hammocks in. I had a lesson at 9am and then at 2pm, sometimes I had little to do and left and returned.

"They will enjoy hotel level of security and comfort at a hostel price. Suggested night rate 60+ USD."

I always thought hostels were cheaper than that, per night. Is that pretty accurate though?

That's nice but for airport what about fixing the real problem, which is that it is so hard to sleep during the flight. More silent planes and hamacs could be the answer.

I foresee as much use for short naps as for quickies.

Wow, what a pleasant surprise to see this familiar (to me) business on HN. I researched Sleepbox extensively while working to found a startup called "NapTime" that would operate napping pods in high-sleep-demand areas (same pain point, different design). Yotel, Metronaps, MinuteSuites, YeloCab, FirstClass Seats (arguably), and several other businesses are similar in concept.

I worked on this startup for about 7 months with 3 other grad students (at the time) and thus have spent way too much time learning about this problem, the challenges involved in addressing it, and prior/existing attempts to do so. We directly interviewed over 100 potential customers for it, managed to track down and talk to other founders in this space, wrote a full business plan, etc. Here are some of my insights:

- Far and away the #1 most commonly asked question we got was: "But won't people have sex in it?" The #2 most common (arguably a corollary) was “How will you keep them clean?” But that’s not the interesting part... the fascinating thing is that you ONLY get these questions when people are envisioning something similar to the Sleepbox (frequently mocked as “Sexbox” or “Sleazebox” in online comment sections and the like). Neither Metronaps (i.e. high-tech recliner) nor Yotel (i.e. super-compact hotel room) seem to inspire this “ick” factor. Why? My hypothesis: Imagine a spectrum from “chair-like” (zero enclosure, zero privacy) to “room-like” (total enclosure, total privacy). On the “chair” end, it doesn’t really occur to us that some stranger might have sexed on it, even if it’s totally possible. On the “room” end, we know full well that strangers probably HAVE sexed there, but it doesn’t bother us because we consider a private room to be an acceptable, non-sketchy place to do such things. It’s only at some point in the middle that the perceived “wholesomeness” of the design plummets dramatically... we are squicked by the thought that some stranger may have sexed somewhere they are not SUPPOSED to. This effect was so predictable that I started calling it the “Unwholesome Valley” (like the “Uncanny Valley,” but with a different x-axis) For NapTime, I had some ideas for how to get safely to the left, “chair” end of the Unwholesome Valley while still providing a sense of security (highly important to most people we interviewed) and making access restriction a possibility (essential if you want to make any money.)

- People often think of airline travelers as the most lucrative market for a sleep pod business, because they’re always tired, they’re a captive market, and travelers are often willing to spend more money. However, there are a few major hurdles that make airports a difficult place to make money (most of these I learned from talking with a founder who had tried to do an airport version of their napping business, without success). Perhaps the most non-obvious is this: airports are empty most of the time. Most airports have four “spikes” per day when it is crowded; the rest of the time, it is almost totally deserted. Most of us perceive airports as being busy all the time; this is because we, as travelers, are only there during those spikes. Businesses who sell to airline travelers know otherwise. The “spiky” nature of airport occupancy is a particular problem for a napping pod business because 1) Most of the time, there are no customers around and 2) When you are suddenly surrounded by customers during a spike, you have limited ability to take advantage of it, because each pod only holds one person (unlike an airport coffee stand which is limited only by how quickly they can perform each transaction). However, I do believe success is possible if you account for the challenges while designing the business model and the pod itself.

- Despite the technical challenges, I believe that it is better to have a “vending” model where each pod is independent and self-service, rather than a “sleep salon” model where the pods are grouped together in a lounge with an attendant. The primary reason (again, according to founder interview) is that tired people are extremely reluctant to walk ANY distance to get their nap, so you need to locate the pod exactly where the demand is (demand is spread out within the building, and so too must your pods). I would also hypothesize that tired people would prefer not to interact with a human attendant and deal with the self-consciousness of sleeping in his/her presence.

Long post, I know, but this was practically my whole life for the better part of a year, so I have lots to babble about. My cofounders ended up ditching the project upon graduation despite seeming very gung-ho about founding up until that point. I put the project on ice, but I would love to pick it up again someday under the right circumstances and with the right people. Who knows... if you’re interested, contact me. I live near Mountain View.

I think it would have a good market in replacing shared hostel/dorm room accommodation for backpackers.

Did this thing catch on? I remember reading about it a couple years back.

How do they hedge against bed bugs?

That's a solvable problem. I still love the idea.

you could potentially integrate physiological sensors to monitor for occupant numbers and elevated heart and breathing rates to detect for sexual activity, then have some sort of warning, alarm and deterrence system if you were interested in preventing it from happening. or customers who use the pod for sex could automatically be billed a premium/fee (assuming credit card use). molecular sniffers might be possible to monitor for drug use. but the best strategy to ensure would probably be deploying them in limited-access environments. or perhaps fixing the roots of anti-social behaviour and mistrust in our societies.

I can't wait to see the YC startups pitching plans to fix anti-social behaviour... NerveStaple (YC25) harmonizes us all to the Great Leader!

What's wrong with sex in the box? Why not just install camera then?

I read that as "why not just pay the premiums of sex by selling a recording of them going at it, as amateur porn?".

nice, but at what point can we get over associating radically new living space ideas with the design ethos of "2001 A Space Odyssey" ?

I love this :)

Please try "Settings -> Show advanced settings -> Web Content" in Google Chrome and set the font size to "Very large". Then visit your page again.


looks cool, but the website is kinda meh. that currency picture on the bottom is super-pixellated.

did anyone else think this was a bufferbox parody?

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