Argos Interface Builder, v0.20 from Dimitri Diakopoulos on Vimeo.

You know the game: you decide you want exactly 8 knobs and 10 faders. But your hardware interface has 8 knobs and 8 faders. And then you realize you could use 4 more knobs.

The appeal of touch interfaces is clear: you get controls that grow and change. So now, a generation of mobile apps is working on giving you that flexibility on touch devices. The iPhone is just the start: now the iPad, with greater real estate, will go head to head with 5″, 8″, and laptop-sized screens running Android, Linux, and Windows.

Argos is an early-stages (but usable), free and open-source tool that could help you be ready. Built in openFrameworks, the C++-based cousin to Processing, the app lets you drag in basic widgets like buttons, sliders, toggles, and x-y pads, and assign them to OSC. That opens up control to various music and visual apps. (The OSC assignment tool does bear some similarity to that on the Lemur, though it’s simpler.) The openFrameworks roots should make this easier to port to multiple platforms.

Developer Dimitri Diakopoulos, a BFA student at CalArts, is looking for developers and actively working on making this work on the iPad and its additional screen real estate – with other platforms possible, too. (If some of the PC “slate”s simply run Windows 7, you might be able to just switch the thing on, no port required — and run the app you’re controlling on the same machine if you so choose. We’ll have to wait to see what ships.) Stay tuned for more news on this, but this is well worth a look now. (Synthtopia was on top of the story earlier today.)

I’m personally interested to see if the protocol established by open iPhone app mrmr could allow over-the-air template sharing, and whether all these apps can interoperate with TUIO, the touch protocol developed for the reacTable. I said it earlier today, but there is some real potential in convergence, so I invite anyone who wishes to join that conversation. The trick is, you want to initially let people do their own thing, but then take all those “my own thing” solutions and put them together into an actual standard. If you try to impose the standard first, it might not actually work in the real world, but if you fail to standardize, you lose the advantage of interoperability. On the other hand, I think this very quandary is best solved by small groups of passionate developers, not overly-formalized process.

  • Great job Dimitri, its great to see how nicely and quickly Argos has been coming along… Would love to help out, let's talk and look under the hood Saturday 😉

  • dtr

    Man I love all these interface apps popping up on our touch screens lately!

  • os

    Great stuff, but no-one in the UK will be able to take this seriously because of the name.
    It would be like an American releasing "WalMart Interface Builder".

  • S4410

    cool stuff!

  • tekcor

    great 🙂 now we just need a cheap, good and mobile multi touch screen. no ipad, just the screen.

  • @os: The residents of this town –
    – would I think tend to see things differently.

  • this is 2010. its the future.

  • @os – To be truthful, I didn't spend a whole lot of time researching the name — only made that it hadn't been taken by another FOSS software project. I see your point considering Argos(UK) does around 6 billion in sales every year 🙂 It was originally named after the shipbuilder of the Argo, the ship of Jason and the Argonauts.

    @batlomein – The correct usage of 2010, seeing it's the future, is 'twenty-ten'.

  • Dimitri, it's definitely a better brand than:




    I wouldn't worry about it. 😉

  • LOL, Nerds!! You guys rock 🙂

  • @Peter – Not to get off subject, but following your link to Argos on Wikipedia, my morning got much brighter. (Please stress ALL names while reading)

    "Bias was succeeded by his son Talaus, and then by his son Adrastus who, with Amphiaraus, commanded the disastrous Seven Against Thebes. Adrastus bequethed the kingdom to his son, Aegialeus, who was subsequently killed in the war of the Epigoni. Diomedes, grandson of Adrastus through his son-in-law Tydeus and daughter Deipyle, replaced Aegialeus and was King of Argos during the Trojan war. This house lasted longer than those of Anaxagoras and Melampus, and eventually the kingdom was reunited under its last member, Cyanippus, son of Aegialeus…"

    GOT to love Greek names.



  • João Menezes

    Very nice, very cute too 🙂

  • Progressive Soul

    dose this program support multi touch? If so would it work on a computer with W7 with a multi touch screen? Will PD and Max 4live/MSP become multi-touch? I know PD is open source so is any one working on updating PD so it can work on a machine with multi touch? whats gonna happen to the lemur, Price drop?

  • It would be really great if an app like this could talk wirelessly from your phone to your computer, allowing someone playing live to loop a representative piece of music at the computer, then walk around the club listening and adjusting levels.

  • mzo

    Jeff, generally these apps do work wirelessly as they are already built to send OSC over a network.

    I can already use mrmr or touchosc or whatever to perform remotely from the bathroom at a club if I wanted to 😉

  • Oh, wow! That's cool!

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  • Gregg J

    This program looks like Riff on the Open Labs products:

    Click on Riff Overview