Announced by Bram Cohen, the inventor of the BitTorrent torrent network , the new cryptocurrency is intended as an "eco-friendly" alternative to Bitcoin. It's designed to be mined using a different blockchain verification method that uses less energy than bitcoin, whose mining requires a highly CPU intensive process that expends large amounts of electricity.
Bitcoin mining requires "proof of work" be performed in order to facilitate transactions on the blockchain. This ensures that creating a new block is costly and time-consuming, and makes creating "fake" blocks prohibitively expensive. However, says Cohen, it can lead to centralization to a few miners with access to the cheapest electricity.
Chia, on the other hand, is based on proofs of time and (unused storage) space - a combination of proofs designed to achieve the same level as security as the "proof of work" model. In the new model, chia "farmers" prove they have used resources with proofs of space and time to mint new blocks.
A "proof of space" demonstrates that an amount of space is allocated to a task by answering queries at low latency and amortized cost, while a "proof of time" is described as "a special type of proof of work which takes a specified number of iterations." Each block starts with a proof of space and is finalized with a proof of time - the product of the quality of the two of them must meet the current work difficulty threshold.
Cohen is joined in the venture by former virtual currency exchange Tradehill COO Ryan Singer. The company hopes that Chia may become initially available in Q2 2018, with a full launch by the end of 2018.