Somewhere Else Solutions launched BODYSWAPS, a soft skills training platform powered by AI & VR.

According to the company, the platform lets employees practice their soft skills by acting out a range of high-pressure workplace scenarios with AI-powered virtual humans. You could be a manager giving an employee negative feedback, a CEO pitching an idea to the Board or a young woman in a male-dominated group meeting, etc.

In each BODYSWAPS experience, you get to step inside a new virtual body and, using your own voice and natural body language, you interact with virtual characters. Like in real life, this is not a “choose A or B” simulation, you have to think on your feet and the pressure to perform is real.

Uniquely, at the end of each BODYSWAPS experience, you are given the choice to swap bodies with the virtual character and watch back your session in real time. You actually get to see through their eyes and experience what it feels like to interact with yourself so you can better reflect on what you said and how you said it.

As Christophe Mallet, co-founder of Somewhere Else, puts it “BODYSWAPS allows employees to get a new perspective on how they are reacting and behaving during certain situations. This, in turn, creates empathy and self-awareness, which are two of the most powerful drivers of effective behavioural change.”

One of the first BODYSWAPS created by Somewhere Else is the DAVID Project: a performance management scenario developed with Corporate DNA Consulting, a global leadership firm.

After picking your virtual body, a suited man in his mid-thirties, you enter an office in a swanky London City building. You’re here to discuss with David, an employee whose performance has been dropping.

First you listen to David blaming his shortcomings on others and begging you for mercy. Then it’s your turn to respond to him directly, using the VR headset’s microphone. Once done, you hit the BODYSWAP button and find yourself in David’s body, watching and listening to yourself back from his perspective. You get to experience what it feels like to be on the receiving end of your own management style.

Finally, you access analytics about your performance, leveraging AI for semantics and speech emotion data to give you personalised feedback and tips. You can decide to share a video recording of your performance with anyone or to just have another go until you’re happy with it.

For Tom Cross, a Performance Psychologist at Corporate DNA, it’s “the emotional impact that the VR technology gives you, the speed of feedback and the ability to have another go speeds up that cycle of behavioral change and will enable you to become more effective as a leader”.

Jamie Duncan, Chief Performance Officer at Corporate DNA concludes “This is a fantastic technology that allows you to feel how you come across, to step into someone else’s shoes and actually be impacted by yourself. At the end of the day, your mindset is greater than your skill set, your attitude is far more important than what you learned.”