A glimpse of Genachowski's geeky side

LAS VEGAS--Following FCC Chief Julius Genachowski around the massive CES show floor over the weekend revealed a little more insight about what makes the top communications regulator tick.

Genachowski examines Powermat charging productsFirst of all, he wanted to see everything. If it weren't for his intrepid tour guide, FCC press secretary Jen Howard, who kept things moving at a quick pace, he could have spent an hour at every booth.

The second thing that struck me was Genachowski's ability to envision real-world applications for otherwise over-hyped technologies.

At our first stop at Powermat, (at left) a company that makes wireless charging stations that refuel your devices by placing them on a flat mat rather than plugging in each individually, Genachowski wanted to know more about the energy savings it could provide.

At the Intel booth, he played around with a giant touch-screen that called up social media accounts and other visuals by dragging your finger. He examined the tiny microprocessor that makes it work.

The company isn't commercializing the giant touch-screen--it was just for show. So I asked Genachowski what he thought a practical application could be. I have to admit, other than the neat visuals, I didn't see much use for it.

"You can imagine an entertainment system that uses that kind of visual for its navigation," he said. "Instead of a scrolling menu with words, it could show you the front of a DVD cover... Or say you wanted to pull up family photos. Would you want to see thumbnails, or great graphics like that?"

A former executive at IAC, Barry Diller's entertainment and media company, it was his job to predict the "next big thing" in how media was distributed and how consumers wanted to interact with it.

His next big challenge is finding new ways to compel consumers to interact with broadband to reinforce the Obama administration's goal of Internet access for all Americans.

A short video of his tour is coming soon.