Google has launched a new service allowing people to pay for live video chats with around 1,000 experts in a variety of sectors, providing access to specialist information from partners who can choose their own prices.
The Helpouts service went live yesterday, and offers access to experts in topics as diverse as computing, plumbing, cooking and marriage counselling.
“Today, we’re announcing Helpouts – a new way to get and give help over live video,” said Google vice president (VP) for engineering Udi Manber in a blog post. “Our goal is simple: help people help each other. We want to use the convenience and efficiency of the web to enable everyone, no matter where they are or what time it is, to easily connect with someone who can help.”
Users of Helpouts can choose who they want to assist them based on qualifications, availability, price, ratings and reviews, with the ability to connect instantly or book in advance.
“Help might be a quick answer to a problem you’re having right now, like how to fix your garage door, or how to remove a computer virus; or it might be guidance completing a project, like building a deck,” Manber said.
“It might be learning a new skill, like how to speak conversational French or how to draw cartoons; or it might be general advice on how to improve your fitness or your writing.”
Assistance will be provided by individuals and brands including Weight Watchers and Rosetta Stone, with users having the ability to share their computer screen, collaboratively edit a presentation or record the Helpout. Google is also offering a full money back guarantee if the Helpout is not helpful.
Manber said Google was starting with a small number of categories but that these and the number of people providing help on Helpouts would grow over time.
“Helpouts may not be suitable for every occasion, and it will take time to get used to interactions via real time video,” he said. “We hope that the efficiency, convenience and global reach of Helpouts will make people’s lives easier in the long term.”
He called on users to try Helpouts and give feedback to the company through the service or on social media channels.