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Help ! Video

With live, one-on-one video, a yoga teacher could instruct a student to hold her arm at a different angle or a lactation consultant could suggest that a mother position her infant in a different way.

Yet for the kind of questions the search engine can't answer, Google already has an alternative: YouTube, where how-to videos, like tying a bow tie or installing a car seat, are one of the most popular types for viewers and advertisers.

Live Helpouts videos are different, Mr. Manber said, because the expert can see exactly what a person is doing wrong, and the user can ask questions.

Other companies, like Quora, try to connect people with experts to answer questions, and some use video, like Joyus for shopping, American Well for health care and Wello for fitness training.

Helpouts is also part of a trend in tech to bridge offline and online commerce, including Square for payments, TaskRabbit for hiring people and Airbnb for renting homes.

If Helpouts succeeds, Google hopes it will provide experts with a source of income, so retired doctors or guitar players could teach people online. Experts charge a fixed rate or by the minute (a Helpouts session from Kitchit on making Thanksgiving stuffing costs $20). They keep 80 percent and Google takes 20 percent.

Helpouts is an obvious venue for marketers (Sephora is offering free one-on-one make-up tutorials, for instance) and Bridget Dolan, Sephora's vice president for digital marketing, said she could imagine eventually selling products from a Helpouts session.


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