Google goes DIY with Helpouts online video help service

5 Nov 2013

Need to change a spindle in your kitchen tap? Have a leaky pipe? Your kid is struggling with maths? You never learned how to wire a plug? No problem, Google’s latest paid video service Helpouts may have the answers.

In what may be a powerful thrust into the future of video-based commerce, the internet giant has launched a new way to get help for glitches and problems by connecting consumers with experts via Hangouts.

Google has gone and created a help marketplace where consumers can find the solutions to their problems and shop for the right experts to give advice.

In a clever move, it is also creating a new market for experts to sell their skills based on their qualifications.

“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 for completing a project, like building a deck,” explained Udi Manber, VP of engineering at Google.

“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.

“With Helpouts, you can choose who you get help from based on their qualifications, their availability, their price, their ratings and reviews. You can connect instantly or book in advance. You can get help from individuals or from brands you already know and trust,” Manber said.

The Helpout service makes use of Google’s Hangouts technology to allow both participants in the Helpout to collaborate and edit a presentation or record the Helpout.

“Today is just the beginning. 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.”


Video chat image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years