Posted by Scott

If you produce music or do any DJ/VJing you may have heard of the Lemur, a touchscreen device that allows you to design custom controller interfaces and transmit via OSC. I’ve always wanted one and it’s the first thing I thought of when they announced the iPad today. At $500 it would be a great deal compared to the Lemur’s nearly $2000 price point. You’d just need software and I assume the guys over at TouchOSC already have something cooking. (I used the TouchOSC interface elements to make the mock-up above)

All you musicians, DJs, and VJs out there: Would you buy an iPad to use it as a multi-touch controller? (Comment) I think it would make a great DAW controller, kind of like a customizable MCU or Tranzport. I guess the main issue would be the interface, I don’t really know if the OSC over WiFi would cut it as far as latency is concerned.

Now if there were just a Photoshop to OSC plugin, you could be running a custom interface via touchscreen.

35 Comments Leave A Comment


Ohlin says:

January 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Oh now that is funny. I was just talking to a few friends today about this exact thing!

I use TouchOSC on my iPhone with Ableton Live, Reason and Traktor. I love using it, but having a big screen would be great. But the Lemur is quite cost-prohibitive.

Now, along comes Apple with something that could do the same and more for a quarter the price!

I wasn’t too sure about the iPad until I started thinking about this. Could be very cool.


Ohlin says:

January 27, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Actually, you could just use the pixel-doubled iPhone version of TouchOSC and make your own layout, according to Apple, it’s already compatible.

Seems to me that Jazzmutant might have just lost their market.


Cory says:

January 27, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I was just thinking this same thing earlier today. After reading Create Digital Music’s post about iPad, I’ve been feeling pretty bitter about the iPad not having an actual OS.

There obviously are an incredible amount of capabilities for this here, not only as a controller, but as a standalone instrument (ie. beatmaker, rjdj). Realistically, there will be some incredible music software developments that spawn out of this. Like i said, I’m just still bitter about the fact that putting OS X on a tablet would enable SO MUCH MORE.

And if they were really that certain about using the iphone OS, they could have atleast added a USB port.

Regardless, I guess i’m still really excited to see what softwares do arise out of this, AND how expensive they will be. If the app’s are all still in the $0.99-$20.00 range, then $500.00 for an iPad would be so worth it once those badass music apps start rolling in.


Rob McDougall says:

January 28, 2010 at 1:28 am

Yeah, I’ve wanted to run my VJ sets with a Lemur for about 2 years but could never muster the cash. Might end up picking up the low-end iPad if someone comes up with some decent software.

Would love to be able to run video THROUGH the device – but I suspect no API’s really exist for this…


Simon Hampson says:

January 28, 2010 at 1:39 am

I just tweeted almost exactly the same thought before reading your post Scott. Uncanny. But it is the obvious question..

I have some great music apps on my iPhone already so the iPad can only bring bigger things!


AEON says:

January 28, 2010 at 2:31 am

Well this adds a new dimension and charisma to the this strange macbook/iphone toylike breed apple spawned. Thanks for this point of view, just the technical big multi-touch screen :)


Ed says:

January 28, 2010 at 3:00 am

Seems plenty of people are already using TouchOSC with Live already, so I’m looking forward to see what people come up with to run on a bigger screen and faster processor.


Riccardo Antolini says:

January 28, 2010 at 5:54 am

most definatelly would.
and now that i think of it the ipad could work well as a dj tool, instead of bringin out my laptop all the time (which is getting old and needs to be replaced..)


Markus says:

January 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I wouldn’t trust a wireless device in a performance setting. If it had an extension for an Ethernet port or we could have osc via usb then I might be inclined to say that this conglomeration of expensive electronic modules might actually be useful and not just supply for a demand that has to be created yet.


DJ Hegemoney says:

January 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I would do it, but only after those intrepid pioneers went out and made it simpler. I seems too ad hoc right now. But one thing is certain, if it can mix better than Serato , then a lot of DJs would rather dump the money into an iPad than into another Serato box. The limit will be memory. If you can’t plug a thumb drive into it, then you can only use the music that is stored on the iPad itself. That would be inconvenient. Plus, it would be a bit fragile and not something I would want to allow the other DJs I play with to use. But let’s say I can network it into a macbook that is already plugged into the mixer, then it’s possible that I could use it to control the set from the booth that I am sitting at eating my complimentary meal. That could be fun.


Austin says:

January 28, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I think a lot of people that have wanted a lemur, but couldn’t justify $2k will be getting the ipad. Maybe lemur will even port the software over? I’m looking forward to see the music software that comes out for ipad.


shawn says:

January 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm

i’d love to use it a a simple drum pad live, and of course as a synth app controller.

once the new sdk filters thru to the new versions of mellotron / analog / drum machine emulations… we’ll probably have some interesting “virtual life-sized” instruments for performance. sounds like a fun development.


Tiemen says:

January 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Regarding the wireless issue, I always bring an airport express with me to create a private sole purpose network for vj-ing. Works great. We even had a laptop analyzing audio from one end of the venue and transmit it to the balcony where the visuals were created.
I do think an iPad would work great. But I must say it doesn’t actually look cool when someone’s holding it and prods it with some fingers (at the keynote). ;)


Jay Williams says:

January 28, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Who says you have to use Wifi? The iPad has Bluetooth and a Dock Connector. Either of those should be low latency enough for it to work. I think it’s a great idea!


Connectedness Locus says:

January 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm

From the information we have, it seems that Apple really dropped the ball by not making this thing OSX driven. It’s a huge iPhone. OK, so we can watch movies on it and they’re bigger. Facebook fills up more of our vision. Pictures are bigger. Cool. For everyone that has a MacBook and/or an iPhone, this really doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

A DAW ‘app’ or TouchOSC ‘app’ of some sort might be fun, but how much good would it do without access to your hard drive, audio files, interface(s), and softsynths that are part of your usual work flow? As a multi-media electronic musician and performer I can say, right now, that this product does not interest me at all.

Then again (and I’m sure some of you have seen this excellent bit of internet archaeology) similar things were said about the iPod:


Miguel says:

January 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Hey Scott (long time no see!)
I think the iPad is still not ready to be used as control surfaces for this kind of thing, OSC definitely has been more advanced when it comes to VJing than for audio (iPhone wise) while it might not be as simple to set up, the Lemur controllers are just more robust to be taken on the road, they are heavy and strong, etc. If the iPad ends up being what I expect it to be (and I like to call it an “iPad mini™” it would be hard to imagine it on tour.

Then there is the latency issue, if you want to trigger loops (audio or visual) on the iPhone/ OSC you need to do it a bit earlier than what you want it to trigger. Not the case with the Lemur, if you have used one already, they are very responsive and you can tap it nearly as hard as you would tap on a good ol’ MPC!

Check out my buddy Bryant, he is currently designing a lot of the interfaces you see people using on the Lemurs, very nice work!

Hope all is well!



Matija says:

January 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Funny think, becouse I was thinking exactly the same thing when I heard about it. 500$ Lemur! If only somebody start making apple to usb adapter..


Allan White says:

January 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I hear some of you wishing/ranting that it doesn’t run full OSX. It won’t. It shouldn’t – it’s a new paradigm. Think on what they did with the iWork suite: real apps for doing real work, re-imagined for multitouch.

@ConnectedLocus: It doesn’t need an HD to do what you say. Could a lemur-like UI control something like Live, MAX or VDMX? Absolutely! It can be a *control surface*, not the entire engine itself. I hope that happens. It’s where things need to head anyway – I can’t stand these dense, confusing interfaces. I need simple and expressive, but powerful; this new class of interfaces will do this.


T-Nut says:

February 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Barry Threw Wrote:

“Jazz Mutant had the Lemur software running on iPhone at AES two years ago, I would assume an iPad port would be trivial.”

Um. They did?…Don’t think so.


Allan White says:

February 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Jazz Mutant had the Lemur software running on iPhone at AES two years ago, I would assume an iPad port would be trivial.

Never heard this, either. Prooflink?

You sure it wasn’t TouchOSC? That’s been around a while.