remote control – Starting apps remotely via simple network protocols

I’m working on a project where I have several Android devices with certain apps installed on them that need to be started remotely via WiFi (or possibly Bluetooth) in response to a physical event detected by various sensors.

Does anyone if there is an app that can start other apps upon receiving some kind of network command? The protocol involved needs to be fairly simple as the commands are sent by a microcontroller-based system with no OS, so I would need to implement anything from scratch. UDP or simple TCP (i.e. HTTP) is fine, but I want to avoid having to deal with things like SSH or VNC.

I’ve found an app called ‘Remote App Launch’ which uses HTTP and does exactly what I need, but the issue is that it has quite a delay (randomly varying from around 1 to 10 seconds) when starting an app (especially with the screen off).

I guess it would be possible to write a dedicated app for this, but I don’t have any kind of experience with developing for mobile devices.