Touchable tablets may be all the rage at the CES trade show, showcase to consumer-friendly gadgetry. But quietly, developer Sensomusic has accomplished multi-touch control of an open-ended music system on standard-issue PCs and accessories. They’ve pointed the way to just what this mechanism could be.

The latest video isn’t terribly easy to see, but it realizes something that has been the dream of fans of the music control protocol OSC (OpenSoundControl). “Learn” functionality lets you touch a control, then assign that control to something in your music software. But because these functions have relied on MIDI, they’ve generally been a bit arbitrary – touch one thing at a time, get a number for that thing, then assign that number to a controller. It works well enough, provided you step through each control. OSC promises to do more, though: an arbitrary touch controller on, say, your iPhone (or anything else) can have a plain-English name. And you can see multiple parameters appear on the screen at once, so that a sensor or multi-touch pad could have all its messages pop up at the same time.

Finally, Usine does OSC Learn correctly, with messages that pop up with names and get connected to whatever you like. I still think there’s more potential here to be plumbed, but it’s a great step.

If you don’t follow why that’s cool, check out another mapping notion from last year – here using a touch panel to make any graphic playable. And at the end of this story, check out the clever multitouch gesture recognition they’ve added.

Again, all of this you can do with standard-issue hardware – Apple iOS hardware, if you like, controlling a PC, or non-Apple hardware displays with touch or Android devices and the like. (Unlike the Emulator we saw earlier today or the original Lemur device, it’s a software solution that works with your hardware of choice.) More to watch:

More information (and more videos):

  • Tom D

    "Apple hardware, if you like, controlling a PC" – I didn't think Usine was available for Apple hardware?

    • Floego

      I guess he is talking about Apple hardware like an Ipad or Ipod touch.

  • gLOW-x

    It is about controlling a PC with Usine installed.
    But you can use an Apple hardware like iPad,iPhone… to do it, with an OSC application.

    Usine for now is Windows only.

    • peterkirn

      Clarified that line, sorry. The point is, you can use any number of off-the-shelf devices — touch on your computer, separate touch displays, mobile tools running iOS, Android — all with a Windows PC.

  • wetterberg

    One of the things I like about using touch interfaces and OSC, as I have been doing for what, 5-6 years now, is exactly that locking things in place is so easy – the name-space is particular, and each device I build (in max, maxforlive, vvvv, whatever) will have its own "universe". 
    Dynamically building lists of these things are very much in the realm of things like Jamoma, which has the deepest osc-implementation I've ever seen anywhere, and it's a really cool idea to at least have the option of quickly getting data in like this.

    Max now has inlets on the "route" objects and more to dynamically set the routing, making this quite an easy patch to build – have a little "learn" toggle, set up a gate or two and you're off. 
    This has started me thinking about some cool control routing, for sure.