Google Helpouts Lets You Video Chat with an Expert

Dennis Faas's picture

Not very handy around the house? Your first reaction to a leaky faucet may be to pay someone to remedy the situation. But you might be able to save some cash by video chatting with a plumbing expert through a new program called Google 'Helpouts'.

Google says Helpouts is about people paying experts to carry on live video chat sessions. The firm says anyone who feels they're an expert on a topic can trade their services for some kind of payment.

Experts can choose to be paid for a whole task or they can set their rate based on the number of minutes it takes to answer a question.

Google Makes Connecting with an Expert Easier Than Ever Before

Google says more than 1,000 experts have already signed on for the program. The experts' skills range widely -- there are cooks, yoga instructors, piano teachers, and home repairmen.

"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," said Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at Google. (Source:

Helpouts will also offer people live assistance for their computer problems. Looking to learn more about Adobe Photoshop? An expert can help you follow a lesson by sharing their screen with you.

How-to videos are hardly new. Just look to Google's own YouTube video service, where there are literally millions of videos showing people how to cook, learn a new language, and change their oil for the first time.

According to a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, these kinds of videos are the second most popular type of online video content (comedy took the top spot). (Source:

Google Creating New Careers?

But Helpouts offers a much different product than your typical YouTube how-to clip. Not only could it help Google make a bundle of cash, but it could also offer work for thousands, even millions of people.

With the world continuing to limp through a recession, Helpouts could allow out-of-work experts to reach a new consumer population.

But Google isn't limiting its expert base to individuals. Several very recognizable companies, including Weight Watchers, Rosetta Stone, and Sephora, have all signed on to provide expert advice.

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