A while ago I posted an example implementation to control FastLED with serial commands: https://plus.google.com/+KasperKamperman/posts/gsY84zrSc2f
I’m now using the Particle Photon in order to play around with commands received over TCP. The nice thing of the Photon is that it supports threads, so your animations don’t have to stop when sending data, connecting to the cloud or losing WiFi connection.
You can find the application including comments on gist:
I’ve made a Processing sketch to send data in the command protocol so you can try it out yourself:
Of course you could also use other protocols like what @Jason_Coon
posted for the ESP chip.