Google already has a video chat service called Hangouts which lets you talk to people you know or broadcast live video to an audience. Now Google is leveraging that technology to launch a new service called Helpouts which can connect you with a stranger — in order to answer a tough question or learn a new skill.
Helpouts lets you find a guitar teacher, a photography wiz, or another professional or expert who can help you touch up your photos, learn to play Stairway, or perfect another skill. The experts are vetted by Google, and most will charge a fee for their time.
You can use Google Helpouts using an Android app or a desktop web browser. Google lets you search for helpers by keyword, or you can browser by categories ranging from Computers & Electronics to Fitness & Nutrition.
Experts can charge a fee per session or set a rate per minute.
Note that while folks have to be verified by Google before they can start charging for tutorials or advice, the service is pretty new and it’s likely that the quality of your results may vary from session to session — you’re dealing with real people, not computer algorithms, after all. Google is offering a money-back guarantee at launch though, which helps reduce the risk that you’ll get an abusive drill sergeant when you were looking for someone to help you perfect your pie crust-making skills.
Some of the early partners include Weight Watchers, Home Depot’s RedBeacon service, and One Medical. Health-related Helpouts are designed to be HIPAA-compliant.