Neural mechanisms of touch are typically studied in laboratory settings using robotic or other types of well-controlled devices. Such stimuli are very different from highly complex naturalistic human-to-human touch interactions. The lack of scientifically useful naturalistic stimuli hampers progress, particularly in social touch research. Vision science, on the other hand, has benefitted from inventions such as virtual reality systems that have provided researchers with precision control of naturalistic stimuli. In the field of touch research, producing and manipulating stimuli is particularly challenging due to the complexity of skin mechanics. Here we review the history of touch neuroscience focusing on the contrast between strictly controlled and naturalistic stimuli and compare with vision science. We discuss new methods that may overcome the obstacles with precision-controlled tactile stimuli, and recent successes in naturalistic texture production. In social touch research, precise tracking and measurement of naturalistic human-to-human touch interactions offers exciting new possibilities.