Google Helpouts: a live video tutorial service to connect experts with amateurs

From learning an instrument to fixing a faulty computer, experts are available to offer help via video chat

Google has today announced the launch of Helpouts, a live internet video service that aims to “help people help each other”.

We already knew that Google was testing Helpouts, and now they’ve rolled out the platform. In a sense, Helpouts takes the Google search one step further – instead of googling a query and taking advice from a faceless blog poster, users can now get help on almost anything from an expert over video chat.

Tutorials are available in a number of different categories, such as health, fashion and beauty, art and music, cooking and more. For example, for somebody interested in perfecting their Shakespearean acting skills, there’s “Acting Shakespeare”. And if that interest is in chocolate confectionery, then the Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School are available to help.

Some help is free while the rest comes at a cost, and users can choose whether to connect instantly or to book a slot for later. It is also possible to choose who to receive the help from based on their prior experience and qualifications.

Google are set to monetise the service by taking 20 per cent of the fee that users pay for the tutorials. They will, however, waive the fee for services provided in the health category.

It remains to be seen how many big firms will take advantage of Helpouts. That being said, a number of firms including Weight Watchers and Rosetta Stone have already started to use the service.

“Today is just the beginning,” said Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at Google. “We’re starting small and in a few categories. The number of people giving help on Helpouts and the type of help available will 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. We hope that the efficiency, convenience and global reach of Helpouts will make people’s lives easier in the long term.”