Zipcar, the affordable, rent-by-the-hour car sharing service of choice in urban areas, is about to get some competition from… Verizon, of all companies. The wireless service provider announced its "Auto Share" service, which enables any car to become a Zipcar.

Here's how it works, according to a VentureBeat report:

Auto Share, which is being shown this week at the ITS World Congress in Detroit, allows a smartphone app to scan a QR code on a car's windshield and capture the vehicle's unique ID number. Once validated, the smartphone user remotely receives the capability to unlock and start the compatible vehicle. A key fob for operating the vehicle will be stored inside. Auto Share will be available by the end of this year, and promotional offers and expansion into ride-sharing are in Verizon's plans.

That's slick, but think, for a moment, how awesome it would be if it was applied to more than just cars — lawnmowers, storage spaces, motel rooms and electronic devices. Turns out that's precisely what Verizon is aiming at.

"This is just our entrée toward developing a platform for a sharing economy where users can just walk up to any kind of shared resource and access it through Verizon", Verizon's Associate Director of Connected Solutions Paul Bedard told VentureBeat.

Who would have thought? [VentureBeat]