Both hardware and software. In the old days you would get a single board computer or mock up the system using a PC. Today I would turn to a cheap Android cell phone and an app to scan and maybe Bluetooth to link to the drinkmachine controller's serial port.
Given no limits on hardware in your post, maybe just some laptop inside the box with some USB web cam to read the label then image processing code running?
For my final exam I have to do a project. We decided to make a drinkmachine (the reason why is irrelevant). To make the service quicker, we want to use a qr code or barcode. You can only gain acces to the drinkmachine when you've scanned the qr code. But the question is, how to do this. How can we lock the machine until someone scanned his bottle.
I know it's difficult to make this work, but any advice is welcome.
Thanks in advance.
Yours truly, Bottlevision.