The PizzaExpress restaurant chain has added iPod docks to seating areas as part of the company's strive to create the "new generation" of pizzerias.

Starting with its restaurant in Richmond, PizzaExpress calls this new concept of dining its "Living Lab", inviting public feedback on the new style, before rolling out the features and designs to all of its sites in the UK.

Research has shown that 84 per cent of customers have had an evening out ruined by excessive background noise, while 70 per cent say that they regularly struggle to hear their fellow diners. So, the chain has created a dining environment, with the help of award-winning designer Ab Rogers, to create parabolic booths - domes that hang from the ceiling and deflect background noise and absorb 50 per cent of reverberative sounds - so that the experience is a more pleasant, and quieter.. They're based on similar technology used in the Royal Albert Hall.

In addition, the company has fitted personal iPod docks in its seating areas, which also feature technology to reduce disruptive noise. And they include a "light on" to attract the attention of the waiting staff.

If successful, PizzaExpress will bring the technologies to its other restaurants throughout 2011.

More information on the Richmond branch and technologies of the next gen restaurant can be found at

Do you have problems with noise during dining? Has it ruined a date or worse? Let us know in the comments below...