What Would You Pay for an Hour of Complete Silence?

  • By Catey Hill, Marketwatch
  • September 11, 2014

breather liquidspace apps

If your day is spent among screaming children, honking traffic, yapping coworkers, blowhard bosses and fitful sleep, this thought has almost certainly crossed your mind: Why is it so hard to find some peace and quiet — even for just an hour? Now, a handful of apps are trying to help you do just that, by helping you find — and sometimes purchase — nearby silence.

Breather, which was launched last year and boasts the tagline “peace and quiet, on demand,” lets you rent quiet spaces by the hour in Manhattan, San Francisco and Montreal (for about $25 an hour); you unlock the spaces with your phone and can use them for resting, working or playing. The types of quiet spots vary. Some are tiny rooms in an artist’s loft space, some are meeting spaces in office buildings, but all are zoned commercial, so the user can conduct business in there.

A similar app, LiquidSpace, which launched three years ago, connects people with private workspaces like meeting rooms and small offices that can be rented by the hour; some of these are free (like a room in a library that you can use the app to book) and others come with a price tag set by the space provider that can be more than $100 an hour. And with the Stereopublic app, which began as a TED project a couple years back, users walk through a city and geo-tag quiet spots, essentially creating a crowd-sourced map that others can then look at to find peace in bustling cities.

By some measures, these apps are gaining traction. LiquidSpace, which launched in the San Francisco market, is now in more than 600 cities in the U.S., Canada and Australia, with plans to expand into other countries. Breather, which now has twelve spaces in Manhattan, plans to open a total of 100 spaces in the city within about a year, due to the popularity of the service, the company’s co-founder and CEO Julien Smith says. And Stereopublic, which began as a project in Australia, now has crowd-sourced information in cities throughout the globe, including New York City.

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