Restaurants have embraced technology that aims to improve the dining experience. Here are seven restaurants that have installed ground-breaking gadgets to make eating out more 'hi-tech'.
Interactive tables at Inamo, London
Gadget-lovers will love London's pan-Asian restaurant Inamo. Instead of placing an order with a waiter, you use interactive table-tops to order food, play games and watch the kitchen via a 'chef-cam'. Bored of the setting? You can also change the colours and pattern of the 'tablecloth'. Inamo explains that the table-tops work with a combination of 'overhead projection technology' and 'wireless touch panels embedded in the table'. Inamo currently has two locations in London - on Regent Street and in Soho, with a 'Luxury Set Menu' costing £30.
[ See also: 10 things a waiter will never tell you]
Self-service Kiosks at McDonalds, Europe
At many McDonald's restaurants in Europe you can now order your food at a self-service kiosk. Just select your choices from the display, pay and then collect your meal at the counter. The kiosks have been rolled out in countries including Belgium, Germany, France and Portugal and there are plans to install more in the next few years. They aim to speed up ordering times, reduce queues and improve customer satisfaction.
Waiterless Restaurant 's Baggers in Germany
restaurant 's Baggers, where customers tuck into dishes including
spaghetti bolognese, fish and noodles, states on its website that "all
good things come from above". Why? Because food gently glides down to
the customer on a metallic spiral rather than being plonked down by a
waiter. Orders are made with touch-screens where you can read more about
the restaurant, their suppliers, write reviews and make recommendations
via email or SMS. 's Baggers say that they offer a "futuristic but cosy
Robot waiter at Hajime, in Bangkok
about this for hi-tech? At the Hajime Japanese-themed restaurant in
Bangkok, Thailand, customers order their meals via (yes, you've guessed
it) a touch-screen display. Their food is then delivered not by a
waiter, but by a huge wide-eyed Samurai robot that glides through the
restaurant. As well as serving food, it also clears up after your meal
and can even perform a dance.
The iPad Wine List at Ballymaloe, Ireland
At Ballymaloe House, instead of flicking through large and awkward wine lists, guests can browse their wine collection on an iPad. Although not the only restaurant to use this technology (Global Mundo Tapas in Australia uses an iPad menu), Ballymaloe's interactive wine list also includes special videos recorded by the winemakers themselves. Colm McCan, Sommelier at Ballymaloe tells us that guests "really enjoy" using the interactive list, although they still currently offer the wine list on paper as "at this moment, the iPad compliments the existing wine list, rather than replaces it." A buffet dinner at Ballymaloe costs €75 (£67).
Sort out your finances while you eat - ING Direct Banking Café, US
The aim was to set up a meeting place for people to talk money over a coffee and a bite to eat. The result was the ING Direct Banking Café. In outlets in the US, Australia, Canada and Europe, customers sip 'gourmet coffee' while munching on biscotti, muffins, baklava and cookies and discussing finances with trained café staff. Phones are available for customers to make contact with banking staff and computer terminals, along with free wi-fi, allow you to open accounts, check your balance and make transfers and payments. Arkadi Kuhlmann, ING's CEO of Savings explained "we want people to experience banking that is as easy as having a cup of coffee".
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