How often do you find yourself searching "how to ..." on Google? For me it's more often than I'd like to admit. Last night I found out how to clean a burnt cooking pot. I found what I needed quickly and I was able to remove the stain without much trouble. But my results aren't always that efficient. The other day I was learning how to fix a broken part on my bike but spent far too much time sifting through Youtube videos and irrelevant or confusing websites. Quick, easy access to someone who knows more about bikes than I do would have been a much better solution.
And that's exactly what Google's new Helpouts, launched earlier this week, aims to be: on-demand face-to-face time with experts that can help solve your problem or walk you through a project you're stuck on for free or for a price (Google gets a 20 percent cut) depending on who you choose. Here's how a Helpouts session might look:
But the service won't just connect indivuduals with other individual "experts," Google says: "You can get help from individuals or from brands you already know and trust, like Sephora, One Medical, Weight Watchers, Redbeacon (a Home Depot company), and Rosetta Stone." Plus, if you aren't satisfied with the experience Google offers a full money back guarantee.
Google says it's starting small with just a few categories -- eight in all, from cooking to computers -- but hopes to grow the service and add new help categories depending on the popularity of the service.
In addition to being a revenue source for Google, if the service becomes popular enough it could also be a boost to the growing freelance economy as a simple, low-cost way for people with a particular skill -- music professionals, yoga teachers, writers -- to add another source of revenue. And before you worry about chatting with a complete strangers, The New York Times says that Google runs background checks on every expert and is compliant with HIPAA laws for all medical sessions.
What do you think? Is this another winner from Google or a dud? More importantly, will you use it?
Try it out here.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com