Mrmr is a wonderful tool for turning your Apple mobile device into a multi-touch controller for performance and controlling visuals and music. It allows custom control layouts, it’s beautifully geared to things you can do with your fingertips, and it’s fully open source. As is often the case on this site, we have two messages. One is about a specific technology to play with, the other about the broader possibilities of digital work.

The specific: Our friend Eric Redlinger has ported his Mrmr open-source OpenSoundControl multi-touch controller app to the 2.x firmware for iPhone and iPod touch. We’ve got screenshots, as seen above or via our Flickr stream, and Eric is looking for beta testers from the CDM community. (More on that in a second.)

The deeper issue: Beyond just Apple’s device, there’s a new opportunity to make controllers standard, open, and self-configuring. Why would you want to do that? Eric explains the vision:

Controlling your multimedia performance or installation with a handheld touchscreen device is cool, but what do you do when your friends want to spontaneously participate using their devices? Typically a long tutorial follows in which you explain what OSC and MIDI are and how they need to find and install a special app, then configure the server and port settings, etc. And, oh yeah, you’ll need their device’s IP number…etc.

Now imagine that conversation being like this: Go to the appstore on your phone right now and download this app. Launch the app. Play.

That’s Mrmr (pronounced murmur), and it exists already for the Mac and for the iPhone/iPod, with clients for other devices to come. Although it is not yet on the appstore, you can beta test it today. Ed.: Damn. I still want to pronounce it “mister mister.” -PK

Mrmr consists of a couple of protocols to specify the type and screen location of interface control ‘widgets’, and specifies a way to send the resulting key presses, slider values etc. back to the VJ/DJ app of your choice. It uses standard OSC for its messaging protocol so it works with any existing app that supports Open Sound Control support.

What this means for you is that you can design a custom interface for your Max/MSP/Jitter / Pure Data / Quartz Composer / etc. environment and push that interface onto your phone, and onto others’ phones, providing a great new way to add multi-user, collaborative elements to your set!

And, of course, this ultimately has implications not just for the multitouch Apple mobiles but future multitouch technology, too.

Project page / wiki:

How to get involved in the beta: Eric is definitely looking for testers. now has the testers he needs! Stay tuned!

You’ll need to email your device ID of your tester iPod touch or iPhone running the 2.x firmware. There are two ways to go about that. Here’s a set of instructions for how to find the ID:

Providing Your iPhone Device ID to a Developer

If you use that approach, be sure to put “mrmr beta” in the subject header.

Even better, Erica Sadun has built an app for the job.

Ad Hoc Helper [iTunes Link]

Download it, run it, and it automatically sends off an email with the ID with the subject line already filled in.

Either way, address your emails to eric (at) share [dot] dj with the ID — and let us know how it goes. We hope to have more support materials up on using mrmr very soon, so stay tuned.

Updated: Eric’s testing list is full! But while the beta testers and Eric work on making the app stable in preparation for release, do stay tuned — we’ll have quite a lot more on OSC and how to use it soon, and will keep you posted on official mrmr for firmware 2.0 availability!

If you still want mrmr right now, it’s available on jailbroken 2.0 firmware via Cydia.