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Google testing 'Helpouts' video support service

Chocolate Factory may have cooked new way for consultants to turn a quid

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Google has started testing “Helpouts”, a new service that it says is “a new way to connect people who need help with people who can give help, over live video, anytime, anywhere.”

The Chocolate Factory's public Helpouts sub-site doesn't offer a lot of data, but the support section does, suggesting it will be possible to make oneself available for a Helpout in one's Google+ profile.

As those can be searched, folks seeking knowledge can try to make a connection.

Perhaps the most interesting part for Reg readers is that one can charge for participating in a Helpout, through Google Wallet, which could be an interesting way to turn a quid. Or perhaps those of you working in house just found an interesting way to do video chats with your co-workers. If you don't want them interrupting your day for a quick chat, users can also schedule Helpouts.

Google thinks Helpouts could be handy for “teachers, counselors, doctors, home repair experts, personal trainers, hobby enthusiasts and more.”

Illustrations depicting how Helpouts might work offer images of a Yoga class and a bicycle mechanic offering repair advice. Without experiencing a Helpout we can't imagine how well such consultations would work, but as Vulture South has a half-built bike in the shed the idea of being able to summon assistance to complete it, and having the expert able to see our poor work on their device to offer specific suggestions, has appeal. Whether the local bike shop will embrace the service is anyone's guess, but Google is guarding against dodgy or ill-skilled folks offering service by offering money back guarantee on all Helpouts.

Vulture South's suspicious mind has also wondered if the “more” mentioned above could include services of an adult nature, which we're (ahem) told work quite well over video. We've not been able to find a prohibition of such services in Helpout's Policies page, and the fact that Google says Helpouts in the “Health and Counseling” category will be the only ones not recorded for quality assurance purposes may leave the door open just a little for such naughtiness.

Helpouts are, in true Google style, coming real soon now unless you have been granted an invitation. The Main Helpouts page offers the chance to beg for one. ®

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