Apple iPad tablets ready for take off at North American restaurants

Technology and gastronomy are two very different beasts, but a North American restaurant management group is making a bold move to unite the two by putting free iPads on the menu at flight terminals in the U.S. and Canada.

Thousands of the Apple devices are set to land at New York LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St Paul and Toronto airports over the next 18 months, with the initiative likely to be watched with some interest by the UK hospitality sector, where high-tech dining is still very much a niche market.

Restaurateur OTG is to introduce consumer-facing tablets in its dining areas, enabling customers to order via touchscreen, and then check their Twitter, Facebook and email accounts while they wait for their meal.

"We believe this to be the largest deployment of consumer-facing iPads in the world, and for us, it's just the beginning," company CEO Rick Blatstein said in a statement.

News, gaming, and other apps will also be available on the custom browser, which OTG says will be wiped at the end of each individual session to protect users' privacy.

OTG also runs restaurants in seven other airports, so digitalised eating experiences could soon be coming to more major U.S. flight terminals like JFK, Boston Logan, and Chicago O'Hare, with UK caterering businesses potentially observing the enterprise like they would a trial run.

Trendy London sushi bar Inamo is currently one of the few British-based eateries to make use of touch-screen technology, with diners able to order their nigiri and maki via an interactive table at the Soho venue, while Orange has recently teamed up with high street sandwich retailer Eat to work on an NFC-based customer loyalty system.

Image credit: OTG