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It’s the future all right. The beloved tablet devices like Apple’s iPad are getting jobs. As waiters.

Yes, it seems there may soon be an actual reason to set foot in one of the 1,860 Applebee’s locations in the U.S.—to order your meal from a tablet device, reports Slate. “Customers will be able to use the devices to order food, pay the bill, and ignore their dining companions by playing video games.” And presumably, they’ll also be able to use the devices to look for a another place to eat a decent meal.

While some restaurants are already using tablet devices for various functions like seating charts, devices designed specifically for managing your table services may be the next big advancement in dining and technology.

Specifically, a device called the Presto, designed by a Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup called E La Carte—works like an airline check-in kiosk, or a self-checkout register at the supermarket. Users can order their food and drinks and pay for them all right from the table—and, at a fraction of the cost of what restaurants pay wait staff. But, according to Slate, “the restaurants deny that the tablets represent an attempt to replace human employees with computers. Applebee’s is saying that it won’t change its staffing levels when the devices come online next year.”

Applebee’s competitor, Chili’s, announced a similar plan several months ago as well using a competing tablet vendor, Ziosk.

So, what’s next? How about 3D printers at the tables that can print out your to-go box?

Keep in touch with JIll on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Johan Larrson