(CNN) Google launched a tool called Helpouts on Tuesday in which people can pay to get help from experts over a live video chat similar to Google Hangouts. Anyone who is a teacher or expert on a topic can trade their services for payment, either by the task, by the minute or for a set window of time. Some Helpouts are scheduled and others are available on demand.
To start, Google has more than 1,000 providers signed up to offer things such as music lessons, cooking demonstrations and basic home repair tips. Yoga instructors can give personal lessons and suggest corrections based on what they see over the video. If someone needs help in a program such as Photoshop, they can screen share with an expert who will guide them.
The company's biggest competitor in the video-help category is itself. YouTube, owned by Google, is filled with how-to videos for every imaginable subject. There are eyeliner tutorials, cooking lessons and home improvement instructions. There are videos for tech support, self-improvement, learning new skills and changing a light bulb. How-to videos are the second most popular type of online video content, with 56% of adults online watching the instructional clips, according to a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project survey.
But some problems and lessons need more than a one-sided demonstration. There is a benefit of having a live video feed and back and forth conversation with the person teaching. The experts can spot issues with their own eyes and bring up questions that clients would never have thought to ask.
"Sometimes all you need is facts, and that's fine. Sometimes you need somebody to look over your shoulder, somebody to show you the way," said Udi Manber, Google's vice president of engineering. Manber said Helpouts remove space and time barriers to make getting professional services more efficient and convenient.