With the iPod touch starting around $200, the Apple mobile platform is undoubtedly the most sophisticated, affordable multi-touch controller you can drop in the palm of your hand. It’s tough to beat the tactile feedback of conventional hardware with knobs and faders, but then, it’s also tough to resist having a little additional control from a handheld display. And mobile multi-touch control demonstrates some of the power and potential of OSC (OpenSoundControl) for intelligent, networked devices and software.

We’ve already seen the lovely TouchOSC app put to use in layouts for VDMX and Modul8. But Martin Thoburn’s “Touch Resolume” patch is the most sophisticated yet. It has five pages of layouts, covering cues, beat-synced timing, video and audio effects, levels and mixing, layers, clip triggering, scratching, speed, and much more.

This could be just the beginning of lots of applications involving mobile and multi-touch to come.

Before I get carried away with my enthusiasm, though, this application also demonstrates that OSC implementations on each end are not as flexible and interoperable as they should be. TouchOSC right now doesn’t normalize values in a way Resolume expects. That suggests that both ends need to be made a bit more versatile in different situations – and that as OSC grows in popularity, more effort will be needed to ensure the practice of implementing OSC keeps up with how people are using it. There’s really no excuse for needing an additional layer of interpretation (OSCulator in this case, though any tool that understands OSC would work). There’s nothing wrong with having useful utilities in your OSC signal chain, but you shouldn’t need them just for basic communication. (That’s not Martin’s fault, either.)

I’m less concerned about the fact that this is Resolume-specific, as that does make some sense; I expect Martin has put together something that works well for him, which is the real advantage of having a dynamic touch interface.

Anyway, if you’re a Resolume user with an iPod touch or iPhone, go have a great time – or for other visual tools, get some inspiration for what to add to your template next:

“Touch Resolume” 0.9 BETA – Custom TouchOSC Layout for Resolume 3.1

What’s next? I expect a lot of action in multi-touch on two fronts, PCs and the Android mobile platform. PCs are already starting to arrive with multi-touch controls, which means developers of apps like Resolume and (assuming Apple follows suit) VDMX may want to consider making UIs that work with fingers and not just mice. Lenovo’s ThinkPad line, for instance, has already spawned multi-touch versions. Google’s Android platform, meanwhile, has quite a lot of hardware in the pipeline, including gear with video output. Some of this will be single-touch, but I’d be surprised if multi-touch hardware doesn’t show up, too. Assuming as developers we’re able to directly access that video output, I can imagine lots of homebrewed visual apps on the palm, too.

It should be a good time for your fingertips.

  • AO

    Looks great — the whole TouchOSC thing is probably going to be the tipping factor for getting an iPod Touch when my old gen. iPod dies.

  • That's basically why I hope the rumored Apple tablet will come with the iPhone OS…

  • @vjwunderkind: Why would that be an advantage? Mac OS is more powerful, more capable, more flexible, and more open than the stripped-down Mac OS that runs on the iPhone. Some of these compromises are necessary to run on mobile devices. Others – like restricting application development to Apple's closed store and Apple's rules – most certainly are not. (One thing I always found amusing was explaining away Apple's rejection of apps to the carrier, when the iPod touch has the same restrictions, and when many if not most of these rejections are unrelated to the carrier's service.)

  • We patiently await the MacTablet or whatever Apple decides to call it. TouchOSC with this will be… well… i'll let you imagine that.

  • But wait a minute – this makes no sense.

    You'd choose an Apple tablet with a restrictive OS over a Windows/Linux tablet that lets you do whatever you want – with a larger variety of APIs and tools?

    And not only that, but you'd hope for an Apple tablet with a restrictive OS over an Apple tablet with the standard Mac OS?

    My money is still on a Mac in a tablet form factor, if it's going to be anything different from the current iPod/iPhone line, rather than an extension of the iPhone OS. By the same token, I expect larger-form tablets on the PC side will opt for Windows and Linux over, say, Android and mobile operating systems. But I'm still having a hard time seeing why the mobile OS would actually be *desirable*. There's no reason you couldn't build TouchOSC on a desktop OS – and then you could edit right on the device, which is what was sorely lacking on the Lemur.

  • bsantoro

    My thoughts are that the rumored Apple tablet would not run the DJ, VJ app, but act as a deluxe remote controller for a MacBook Pro or PC notebook for instance, like TouchOSC on the iPhone. The interface and graphic feedback would be greatly enhanced with the expanded real estate (10" diagonal).

    I am sure that those DJs and VJs who already own a notebook would love to add such a powerful controller to their purchase. Even those starting out would know that if they wanted to be a serious DJ, or VJ, they would have to purchase both a full-fledged computer, plus a remote controller.

  • vjwunderkind

    Hmm never thought of it that way. Ideal would be something that would run iPhone Apps AND the normal OS. I only thought it would be cool to have something like the Lemur at a lower price with some added functionality. I'm not a coder and I haven't found any out-of-the-box Windows or Linux app that is as customisable as TouchOSC.
    But you're totally right Peter. I was thinkiing a bit one-dimensionally…

  • Now imagine Touch OSC on an iPad. Will this be the "poor man's Lemur." I don't know, but I may be willing to find out at $500.

  • Touch Resolume, now works with custom OSC commands for perfect control, also and iPad version is available. check out my site for more info.