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Google launches online "Helpouts" tutorial service

After news of a video tutorial session for Google Glass users, Google has unveiled Helpouts, a video chat service that will connect users with experts on topics ranging from how to fix your garage door to how to remove a computer virus.

Prices will vary, as they are set by the person running their particular Helpout. Some are free, like pre-Thanksgiving tutorials from chefs. But there are also guitar lessons for £46 per hour, modelling advice for $25 (£15.50) per hour, or home inspection questions for $10 (£6.20) per hour.

Google is partnering with a few established brands for Helpouts, too, like Sephora, One Medical, Weight Watchers, Home Depot's Redbeacon, and Rosetta Stone.

"Once you're in a Helpout, you can do more than just talk—you can share your computer screen, collaboratively edit a presentation, or record your Helpout. And if the experience doesn't meet your expectations, we offer a full money back guarantee," Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at Google, said in a blog post.

Payments will be processed via Google Wallet. To use Helpouts, you'll also need a Google+ account and access to a device with a webcam.

For those running the Helpouts, Google charges a 20 per cent transaction fee. To offer a Helpout, you need to either enter or request an invitation code.

"We're starting small and in a few categories," Manber wrote. "The number of people giving help on Helpouts and the type of help available will grow over time. Helpouts may not be suitable for every occasion, and it will take time to get used to interactions via real time video. We hope that the efficiency, convenience and global reach of Helpouts will make people's lives easier in the long term."

Current categories include art and music, computers and electronics, cooking, education and careers, fashion and beauty, health, and home and garden.

Helpouts is available on the Web, as well as via an Android app.

Other firms have tried similar offerings, including the new Amazon Kindle HDX, which includes real-time access to video chats with customer service representatives, dubbed Mayday.

Klout, meanwhile, recently launched its Experts service, which allows users to pose questions on a variety of topics, like Quora.