A colleague recently sent me a link to this article from Library Journal about how some libraries are taking a different approach to the perennial issue of students coming into the library not to read but to sleep. Snoring, unattended ringing phones (esp with annoying ring-tones), long-term occupation of limited seating space and other irritants are of concern for librarians who want the library as inviting, but not become a substitute apartment or lounge. Wesleyan University has installed a number of high-tech barcaloungers called Energy Pods which create a sleep-friendly environment for one person, complete with white noise generator and a vibration wake-up alarm to keep the occupant from missing their next class. Personally, I wouldn't mind being able to take a 20-minute nap in the middle of the afternoon, while at work.
Now, as is often the case, I'm pondering how I can apply a real-world technology/event to gaming. These sleeping-pods would be more likely to show up in a modern-day or sci-fi setting, but there's no reason why a fantasy/magic based game couldn't have them as well. And in the fictional world of the game, even a humble couch can be an adventure hook. Say there's a minor spell (or Vita-Rays, or some technobabble equivalent) that makes the couch work as a sleeping pod. What if some evil wizard or spy agency or subversive group has tampered with the couch so that it reads the sleeper's thoughts, stealing secrets or implanting subliminal suggestions? Or perhaps the couch keeps its occupant asleep for a long time, allowing the person to be kidnapped or shanghaied? A spy could arrange to leave messages in the sleeping pod, so a contact can pick them up either in hard copy or by the above mentioned spell/tech? In a more mundane vein, if the PC's are supposed to meet someone in the sleeping pod lounge, what complications can develop from popping open the wrong one? At the very least, in any game where the PC's do a lot of travelling, these short-rest stations could be as common as the tavern & the inn.