Google to offer live video consultations
GOOGLE is launching a service that lets consumers pay for live video chats with experts who can provide everything from step-by-step turkey-cooking instructions to marriage counselling.
The Google Helpouts service, introduced on Monday, features roughly 1,000 partners in fashion, fitness, computers and other topics, available for live, one-on-one video consultations.
The video sessions can be as short as a few minutes or can last several hours, depending on the topic, with pricing set by each individual provider.
"Most of the world's useful information still resides in people's heads," Mr Udi Manber, vice-president of engineering at Google, said at a briefing for reporters on Monday. Helpouts "opens the door to that information as well".
Mr Manber said that Google will initially decide which types of services can be offered on Helpouts. For providers of medical consultations, it will conduct background checks to ensure that the provider has valid credentials.
In addition to individual experts, large brands such as Sephora and Weight Watchers will also be offering video sessions on the Helpouts service. Google will take 20 per cent of the fee that the providers collect from consumers for the video chats.
Consumers can leave reviews of the different video-chat experts and Google will refund consumers who are not satisfied with their video consultation.