This document compiled by Matt Wright and Adrian Freed lists some of the ways in which OSC has been used, organized into "application area" categories, with examples. Please add descriptions of your own applications of OSC as comments in the appropriate section.
A human musician interacts with sensor(s) that detect physical activity such as motion, acceleration, pressure, displacement, flexion, keypresses, switch closures, etc. The data from the sensor(s) are processed in real time and mapped to control of electronic sound synthesis and processing.
Diagram of processes (ovals) and data (rectangles) flow in a sensor-based musical instrument.
This kind of application is often realized with Heterogenous Distributed Multiprocessing on Local Area Networks, e.g., with the synth control parameters sent over the LAN to a dedicated "synthesis server," or with the sensor measurements sent over the LAN from a dedicated "sensor server". There have also been many realizations of this paradigm using OSC within a single machine.
This is almost the same as the "Sensor/Gesture-Based Electronic Musical Instruments" application area above, except that the intended user isn't necessarily a musician (though the end result may be intended to be musical). Therefore the focus tends to be more on fun and experimentation rather than musical expression, and the user often interacts directly with the computer's user interface instead of special musical controllers
A group of human players (not necessarily each skilled musicians) each interact with an interface (e.g., via a web browser) in real-time to control some aspect(s) of a single shared sonic environment. This could be thought of as a client/server model in which multiple clients interact with a single sound server.
Multiple players influence a common synthetic sound output
A group of musicians operate a group of computers that are connected on a LAN. Each computer is somewhat independent (e.g., it produces sound in response to local input) yet the computers control each other in some ways (e.g., by sharing a global tempo clock or by controlling some of each others' parameters.) This is somewhat analogous to multi-player gaming.
Each player can control some of the parameters of every other player
A group of musicians in different physical locations play together as a sort of "musical conference call". Control messages and/or audio from each player go out to all the other sites. Sound is produced at each site to represent the activities of each participant.
People often convert data from other protocols into OSC for reasons including easier network transport, homogeneity of message formats, compatibility with existing OSC servers, and the possibility of self-documenting symbolic parameter names.
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