MSA Remote + VDMX + Ableton Live from Memo Akten on Vimeo.

Imagine what’s now possible with a mobile phone: anyone with a supported device can jam with other artists, walk up to an installation, connect to other creators and other software, all using supported protocols. Leaving behind the days of painstaking manual adjustment of MIDI commands and obscure drivers, and even the act of having to physically connect gear, software – and with it, digital art – can simply talk to each other in standard ways.

That’s why we’re excited about software like Memo Atken’s MSA Remote. It uses the standardization provided by the network-savvy, open protocol OSC, with additional plug-and-play (or, erm, don’t plug, do play) functionality from the TUIO protocol. OSC provides the communication; TUIO makes the messages standardized.

To avoid confusion: You do NOT need a Mac to use OSC. OSCulator is a cool app – and makes bridging to MIDI easier – but it’s just one tool among many. You can use this app with Windows and Linux, too, and visual apps like VDMX, Resolume Avenue, Pd/GEM, Processing… the list goes on. In fact, almost every visual app today worth using uses OSC, even as the music world is painfully slow to catch on.


– Multitouch information sent using standard TUIO protocol for instant integration with existing TUIO clients
– Accelerometer data for each axis (x, y, z) is sent
– 64 faders (8 pages of 8 faders)
– 64 triggers (8 pages of 8 triggers)
– 108 key (9 octaves) VELOCITY SENSITIVE polyphonic keyboard. Yes, the harder you hit the keys, the greater the velocity.
– Settings are automatically saved and restored
– Multitouch area orientation can be set as desired
– All information on protocols are documented in the app

I’m hoping MSA Remote is just the beginning of apps out there – and that we see support for slick, new devices from Nokia, Palm, HTC, and others (and for Android). But it’s especially good news to see MSA Remote available on the iTunes Store, where it was initially rejected. I still think that Apple’s one-store-only approach to distribution is a liability, and since thy’re committed to it, I’d like to see them improve the approval process. But that doesn’t mean I’m any less excited that the app is finally here.

Check it out:
MSA Remote for iPhone

That page also details what TUIO is about and with which apps you can use this. I’m doing some work myself on some of this, so stay tuned for more. And while multi-touch is cool, I think there’s an opportunity to keep standardizing other messages, too, like pen input, location sensors, and other data. It should also be possible to make software smarter about conncting to other OSC apps and hardware. (Oh, yeah, and while we’re at it, we could use more dedicated OSC hardware!)

But thanks for the great work, Memo – and for the acknowledgment. And thanks to everyone who (politely, I hope) communicated to Apple that this was an app we need.

Graffiti Wall meets MSA Remote from Alex Beim on Vimeo.

  • Ian

    It sounds awesome! But crashes repeatedly on OS 3.0 on my 3G… 🙁

  • Eep… yeah, 3.0 in general seems to be causing no end of problems, and thanks to Apple's sluggish review process, I'm hearing LOTS of updates are in the pipe but not approved(!) Don't know if that's the case here.

    Again, like I said, Apple, if you want to demonstrate that having exclusive power over distribution when developers do not is a GOOD thing, it has to, you know, *work*.

  • Ian

    Eh. A reboot may have fixed that. AWESOME BACK ON!

  • Hey, Peter thanks for the post! 🙂

    Ian, I did test the app on OS3.0 and it's running fine on a few OS 3.0 devices here (including 3G and 3GS), so not sure what the problem you ran into was :/ but glad to hear its working now after the reboot!

  • Actually, I believe that can be a memory consumption problem. Some apps I understand don't properly release memory on quit, so even though iPhone doesn't allow multitasking, you can still have memory consumption issues – and the symptom is often a crash. 😉 Rebooting clears the memory.

    So, not to get off on another iPhone rant there. Believe me, if you want to hear some rants about other mobile devices, I've prepared those, as well. 😉

  • awesome..instantly went to get i'll have to find a max patch or something to hook it into

    does anyone know if osc could work over bluetooth avoid having to set up a wireless network while gigging or something? i might not understand how that works at all

  • @blair: OSC is transport independent, and can absolutely, absolutely run over Bluetooth. This is really what I want to use for my Android app — it's a total pain doing wifi now. But we're waiting on Google to provide access. My sense is that Bluetooth is the best way to go given the option.

    Example: several people are using OSC on XBee for Bluetooth-enabled gestural devices.

    Memo, Bluetooth is accessible on the iPhone now, right?

  • Nat

    @memo, I'm very glad to see this !
    I would have a small feature request, zeroconf autodiscovery similar to TouchOSC. If you get to implement this, feel free to ping me if you need info !

    Thanks !

  • Art Gillespie

    @peter Yes, with iPhone OS 3.0 (and either 3G or 3GS hardware) you can create adhoc bluetooth networks.

  • Actually, you don't need to create an ad hoc network in this case, you more likely just want to connect to Bluetooth on the computer. Does Apple let you do that as they do wifi?

    Zeroconf would still work, as well.

  • my ipod touch 2g (os 3.0) is having trouble connecting via'll connect for a second if im changing some settings on my macbook, but then drop..hopefully its not just locked to using headphones and stuff

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  • Muk

    Hi !
    I have TouchOSC which seems to present almost the same feature -> OSC control
    I must admit MSA remote seems to offer a lot more of keys, faders…
    But could someone convince me to buy it :p
    Because I like Memo's work, and I would be happy to contribute to his developpement but I am still hesitating since I don't want to by twice the same app >_<

  • Muk

    By the way I am using it with Processing and recently I am getting interested in PD and openFrameworks (just a question of free time for me to start experimenting those)

  • @Muk – Touch osc doesn't support sending multitouch data (x/y of individual fingers, not pressing multiple buttons) as far as i know, memo's certainly does. if you have an application that can use multitouch data in a meaningful way then it's definitely worth it. I hooked it all into a max/msp patch i have last night and its amazing how expressive it feels. I own both and can see myself using memo's app a bit more because of the multitouch data. They both have their pro's and cons though.

  • Pingback: MSA Remote for iPhone and iPod Touch - A Language Everyone Can Speak | Jim On Light()

  • This looks absolutely wicked. With the x,y,z accelerometer data does this mean it uses the compass facility of the iphone 3gs?

    I'm an art student who is a massive newbie, only a bit of processing skills, but really keen to give this a go.