Perhaps you remember Google Helpouts, the online video service that connects you directly to an expert like a doctor or computer repair specialist? It launched almost a year ago and we’ve not heard much about it since, but it seems Google is ready to give it another push by promoting Helpout services alongside regular search results.
The new integration was first spotted on Reddit rather than announced by Google, so we don’t really know how widespread this test is or whether it’s going to be a permanent feature. From the screengrab that was captured, Google is describing it as a “limited trial” and will be covering the costs of the service for the time being.
Helpouts is a video marketplace where you can pay for specialist advice over the Web or rent out your expertise to other people. “With Helpouts you can get help anytime from people with expertise across a range of topics,” explains Google. “Teachers, counselors, doctors, home repair specialists, personal trainers, hobby enthusiasts, and more.”
While the service attracted some publicity when it launched last November, it hasn’t yet been prominently rolled into Google’s other key services. The Google+ page for Helpouts has 428,667 followers, around a tenth of the number who subscribe to the Google+ page for Gmail, so it would seem that there are a fair few people who make use of the platform.
In the example given on Reddit, searching for a knee complaint gives you the option of speaking live with a trained doctor. Medical advice is one of the areas where Helpouts could really take off, if Google can get the service in front of enough people. Ordinarily the cost of the video conference is set by the person offering the expertise.
Have you used Helpouts to get assistance or help out someone else over the Web? Let us know in the comments.