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FCC Technology Experience Center lets staffers play with the latest gadgets -- and we hang with Chairman JuliusGenachowski

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The FCC held a little event to open its new Technology Experience Center today, and we swung by to check it out -- and spend a few moments chatting with Chairman Julius Genachowski, who presided over the ribbon-cutting. The Center is designed to let FCC staffers actually see and touch the devices and technologies they're regulating -- and hopefully better understand how the Commission's laborious rulemaking process translates to consumer experiences.

Interestingly, the Center is completely stocked by donations from the industry -- the FCC isn't requiring companies to participate, although it's obviously in everyone's best interest if a broad range of companies and devices are present. Two fulltime staffers will curate the collection, and there will be rotating themes to the displays -- this month's is "Innovation and Spectrum." A wide variety of companies are participating at launch: Verizon, Sprint, Microsoft, HTC, Motorola, RIM, Panasonic, Sonos, Grooveshark, Comcast, DirecTV, and others were all showing off their wares today, and the FCC hopes to expand that list over time. (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Apple were all invited, but declined to participate -- although we noticed a number of FCC staffers with personal iPads, including Julius Genachowski.)

Speaking of Julius Genachowski, we managed to grab a few moments with the Chairman after he gave his speech -- he's a gregarious guy, and he's obviously very interested in making sure his staff is up to date on the latest technologies. Hit the break for the video interview and a gallery of shots from the event.

Update: AT&T pinged us to say that the company wasn't actually invited to participate in TEC -- sounds like some signals got crossed.